Senate Energy Committee Ignores Plight of Consumers Reeling From High Gas Prices, U.S. Security Risks Arising from Oil Dependence, Says Alliance to Save Energy

Release Date: Thursday, May 19, 2005

Washington, D.C., May 18, 2005 – “Today the Senate Energy Committee denied the country a very important opportunity to bolster our energy security and to provide relief to consumers reeling from the high price of gasoline by voting down a proposal to increase the fuel economy of SUVs, minivans, and pickups,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan.

The proposal, offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) as an amendment to comprehensive energy legislation under consideration by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, failed by a vote of 15-7. The amendment would have required light trucks to meet the same 27.5 mpg fuel economy standard as today’s passenger cars by 2011. The amendment also would have applied the passenger fuel economy standards to “super-size” SUVs and pickups up to 10,000 lbs., which are being sold in ever greater numbers. Finally, the amendment would have required the federal government, which purchases about 60,000 vehicles annually, to provide leadership by improving the fuel economy of its own fleet. The measure’s authors project it would save one million barrels of oil per day and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 240 million tons annually when fully implemented.

“Perhaps the most ominous and immediate energy challenge to our nation is the transportation sector’s near total reliance on petroleum, more than half of which is imported and almost all of which comes from volatile regions of the world,” warned Callahan. She continued, “With only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves in American soil and U.S. consumption representing 25 percent of the world’s oil use, increasing supply can never buy us oil independence.”

Callahan concluded, “The Congress must get serious about demand-side measures like the Feinstein amendment to ensure that national energy legislation addresses the economic, security, and environmental challenges we face as a nation.”