Feinstein cosponsors bill requiring better gas mileage for SUVs

The Associated Press
Thursday May 03, 2001

Gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles would have to meet the same federal mileage standard as passenger cars under a bill introduced in the Senate. 

A loophole allows light trucks – including SUVs, pickups and minivans – to get lower mileage than cars. The bill introduced Tuesday by Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would require those vehicles to get 27.5 miles per gallon, 6.8 miles per gallon more than the current standard. 

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored the measure. 

Snowe and Feinstein say the 1975 loophole in the standards, called CAFE – for corporate average fuel economy – was created at time when light trucks were used primarily for agriculture and commerce. Last year, light trucks made up half of all vehicles sold last year. 

“Everybody talks about drilling in the Arctic. Here is a step that we could take almost immediately that would have an enormous impact over the next few years,” Snowe said. 

The car industry says modest gains in mileage are possible, but that light trucks will never match the mileage of cars because they are heavier and built to carry heavier loads. Other conservation proposals include a measure by Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., that would couple higher mileage standards with increased oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and a new natural gas pipeline across Alaska. 

Snowe and Feinstein said their bill could move on its own or be folded into broader energy legislation.