Congressional Democrats reached a compromise late
Friday to boost automobile fuel economy by 40 per cent, clearing the
way for a House vote probably next week on an energy bill that
Democratic leaders would like to send to President George W. Bush
The agreement came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached an
accord with Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.), a longtime
protector of the auto industry that dominates his home state, to
ease the impact of the new fuel economy requirements.
``A compromise has been reached on automobile fuel efficiency
standards,'' Dingell announced in a statement.
Automakers would be required to meet an industrywide average of
56 kilometres per gallon for cars and light trucks, including SUVs,
by 2020, the first increase by Congress in car fuel efficiency in 32
With oil prices hovering near $90 a barrel, Democrats have been
eager to sent Bush a package of new energy measures.
But Democratic leaders were stymied over disagreement on the auto
fuel efficiency issues as Dingell, the longest-serving member of the
House and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, insisted on
some provisions to ease the transition for automakers.
Under the agreement, the ability of carmakers to use production
of so-called flex-fuel vehicles that run on 85 per cent ethanol,
would be extended to 2020 and more flexibility would be given in the
ramp-up of fuel efficiency for SUVs and pickup trucks, although
overall the industry must achieve 56 kpg average counting all