Truck manufacturers oppose CAFE standards in Senate bill

| 6/14/2007

As U.S. senators prepare to debate a large-scale energy bill, truck and engine manufacturers are speaking out against proposed fuel-mileage standards for heavy trucks.

Leaders from the Truck Manufacturers Association and Engine Manufacturers Association have made it clear they oppose a proposed amendment to the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards – known as CAFE standards. The amendment is included in S1419, which is the energy bill that was introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV.

“The whole basis on which light-vehicle CAFE standards are constructed just does not carry over to the heavy vehicle arena,” Truck Manufacturers Association President Robert M. Clarke recently told Land Line. “It’s a direct mimic of what is going on in light vehicles.”

Reid pulled together various energy-related bills to create S1419, which also includes provisions for renewable ethanol and biodiesel, electricity and energy conservation, standards for lighting, heating and cooling equipment, and assurances against price gouging by fuel companies.

The truck and engine manufacturers released a joint statement voicing their opposition to the proposed amendment to the 30-year-old CAFE standards, which were designed with passenger vehicles in mind.

Specifically, the bill outlines a 20-year plan to require an annual 4-percent increase in fuel mileage for trucks to go along with an increase in passenger-vehicle mileage from 27.5 miles per gallon to 35 mpg.

The Big Three automakers are also speaking out against the proposed CAFE requirements, citing issues with safety. Lawmakers have not changed the CAFE standards for 16 years.

Another hot topic in S1419 is renewable fuel. The bill includes aggressive approaches to reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Reid’s bill includes provisions to mandate an increase in renewable fuels from 8 billion gallons per year of ethanol and biodiesel in 2008 to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022.

Critics, including food and beverage companies like Kellogg’s and Coca Cola, are worried about price increases for corn as demand for ethanol grows.

– By David Tanner, staff writer