This afternoon, the energy bill that requires 35 mpg by 2020 CAFE handily passed Congress. After passing in the Senate last week, the first increase in average fleet fuel economy in 32 years sailed through the House of Representatives 314-100. The auto industry's best friend in Congress, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., "was key to a compromise on vehicle efficiency increases," as the AP put it. As we mentioned, part of that compromise meant stripping out tax provisions for renewable energy requirements and the elimination of new incentives for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Oil companies were also spared higher taxes. President Bush has said he will sign the bill.
The new CAFE standard is part of a broad energy bill and includes a massive boost to ethanol producers. As the AP reports:
In a dramatic shift to spur increased demand for nonfossil fuels, the bill also requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, a boon to farmers. And it requires new energy efficiency standards for an array of appliances, lighting and commercial and government buildings.
With the negotiations over, the auto industry now needs to get all of their wonderful concepts out of the auto shows and onto the roads. Thirteen years should be plenty of time, even in the notoriously slow auto industry. They'll need to work hard, based on the number of cars we can buy today that will offer 35 mpg - not many.