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THE NATION

No Boost in Light-Truck Efficiency for 2004

April 02, 2002|Reuters

WASHINGTON — Sport utility vehicles and other light trucks manufactured for the 2004 model year will be required to get the same minimum average requirement of 20.7 miles per gallon that has been in effect for a generation, the U.S. Transportation Department said Monday.

Last month, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected an attempt by some Democrats to require American auto makers to boost the fuel efficiency of gas-guzzling SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks by 50%.

The Senate instead approved a weaker provision requiring the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to first consider the effect of higher fuel mileage standards on passenger safety and auto industry job losses.

By law, the government was required to issue a final rule Monday setting light truck standards for model year 2004.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said environmental groups, the auto industry, lawmakers and other members of the public have until May 8 to offer suggestions on possible changes to federal mileage standards in 2005 and beyond.

When Congress adopted the original fuel standards nearly 30 years ago, most Americans drove passenger cars. Today, however, more than half of all new vehicles sold in the nation are SUVs, minivans or other light trucks.

Environmental groups and many Democrats contend that stricter fuel standards would save roughly the same amount of fuel as could be extracted from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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