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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Nov 21, 2007 2:00 AM Flag

    Deal on fuel rules close, Dingell says

    Deal on fuel rules close, Dingell says
    David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

    WASHINGTON -- House and Senate staffers continued to negotiate behind closed doors Tuesday to try and reach agreement on the broad outlines of a deal to raise fuel economy mandates before Congress returns in December.

    U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that a compromise is within reach.

    "It is my view that a compromise can be reached using the language passed by the Senate," Dingell said in a Nov. 13 letter posted Tuesday on the committee's Web site. "The differences between the House and Senate bills can be bridged."

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    The Senate in June passed an energy bill that would hike Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by 40 percent to a fleet-wide average of 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks combined by 2020.

    The fixes to the Senate bill that Dingell proposes are strongly opposed by many in the upper chamber, which argue that they would weaken the bill.

    In his letter, Dingell urged Pelosi to support some key changes to the Senate bill: retaining separate fleet averages for light trucks and passenger cars and giving automakers enough lead time and "initial flexibility" to comply with new standards.

    One idea under consideration is to give auto companies longer to meet the light truck requirements and allow them to use credits from passenger cars to meet the truck standards.

    The auto companies and legislators agree that 35 mpg has become a "bumper sticker" figure that can't be reduced.

    Dingell also said automakers need financial help to reach these tough goals. The Bush Administration has said it could cost Detroit's automakers $85 billion to meet the mileage increases in the Senate bill.

    "The legislation must provide some level of assistance and flexibility so they can stay in business and accomplish this significant national objective successfully," Dingell wrote.

    Because of controversial provisions in both the House and Senate energy bills, Democratic leaders may split the legislation into smaller parts to get at least some elements -- including fuel economy increases -- enacted. "Reforming and increasing (CAFE) appears to be the least difficult to resolve," Dingell wrote to Pelosi.

    Still, proponents of the Senate bill have taken a harder line on eliminating separate car and truck standards in the wake of a decision last week by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to rewrite light truck CAFE standards.

    Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and a long-time advocate of higher fuel economy standards, sent a letter to colleagues Tuesday urging them to reject watering down the Senate bill."Recently, you may have heard from certain auto industry lobbyists that eliminating the 'light-truck loophole,' which allows cars used for transporting people to be classified as trucks for purposes of fuel economy standards, 'is a recipe for disaster.' " Markey wrote, along with a colleague, Rep. Todd Platts, R-Penn. "The complaint raised by the Detroit companies is yet another red herring unsupported in any way by the facts."

    Automakers have

    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071121/AUTO01/711210382/1022/POLITICS

 
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