Senate OKs auto fuel economy increase, more ethanol use
WASHINGTON – The Senate passed a trimmed-back energy bill Thursday that would bring higher-gas mileage cars and SUVs into showrooms in the coming decade and fill their tanks with ethanol.
The measure was approved with strong bipartisan support 86-8 after Democrats abandoned efforts to impose billions of dollars in new taxes on the biggest oil companies, unable by one vote to overcome a Republican filibuster against the new taxes.
The bill now goes to the House, where a vote is expected next week. The White House issued a statement saying President Bush will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk, as is expected. Bush had promised a veto if the oil industry taxes were not removed.
The bill calls for the first major increase by Congress in required automobile fuel efficiency in 32 years, something the auto companies have fought for two decades.
The car companies will have to achieve an industrywide average 35 mile per gallon for cars, small trucks and SUVs over the next 13 years, an increase of 10 mpg over what the entire fleet averages today.