Environmentalists want CAFE standards raised

A federal proposal to make light trucks and SUVs more fuel efficient would not significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil or clean the air, environmentalists said Wednesday. Each automaker's fleet of light trucks would have to average 22.2 miles per gallon by the 2007 model year, compared with the current requirement of 20.7 mpg, according to the Bush administration's corporate average fuel

A federal proposal to make light trucks and SUVs more fuel efficient would not significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil or clean the air, environmentalists said Wednesday.

Each automaker's fleet of light trucks would have to average 22.2 miles per gallon by the 2007 model year, compared with the current requirement of 20.7 mpg, according to the Bush administration's corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.

"The minimal thing that they are considering is an indication of how trivial they think this issue is," said Dan Becker of the Sierra Club, adding that light trucks could reach the 40 mpg level by 2012 by using existing technology. "It isn't going to make a meaningful difference in fuel economy."

The White House budget office and two federal agencies are reviewing the proposal. Officials have yet to decide on a standard, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

The industry has made pledges to improve fuel economy, including the introduction of more hybrid gas-electric vehicles and government-supported work on fuel cell vehicles to replace the internal combustion engine.

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