WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee today called for action by the Bush Administration to mandate an increase in fuel economy standards in light of the massive run-up in gasoline prices over the last 2 months.

“The price of gasoline has become a fairly accurate thermometer of how sick our economy and foreign policy entanglements have become as we remain tied to an imported oil lifeline over which we have no control,” said Markey.  “The fever just spiked again, our troops are dying in Iraq, and our businesses and families are getting the shaft again from oil speculators trying to guess if we’re just around the corner from an expansion of hostilities in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, the Administration proposes an automobile fuel economy bill that contains no specific mandate for higher fuel economy standards and therefore results in no guaranteed oil savings.  One has to wonder when an Administration that has shown itself to be perfectly willing to mandate the deployment of more and more troops to Iraq will be willing to finally mandate that cars and SUVs sold in America meet tough new fuel economy standards that actually reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
In some areas of the country, gasoline prices have risen to over $3.00 per gallon for regular.  While the price of crude oil eased slightly over the weekend in response to the release of British hostages by Iran, it is unclear when the price of gasoline will drop.  In the past, gasoline prices have remained stubbornly high despite the easing of crude oil prices, leaving consumers and small businesses to wonder who is profiteering at their expense.
Fuel economy standards for cars have remained unchanged since 1985.  Successive Republican administrations have refused to use their existing discretion to increase fuel economy standards, and the Republican Congress actually passed appropriations riders during the Clinton Administration to prohibit any increases.  Currently, overall U.S. fuel economy is about 26 miles per gallon (mpg). China's is 35 mpg. Japan's is 45 mpg. The President gave a speech calling for an increase U.S. fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg in 10 years, but refuses to support legislation to require such a result, despite the fact that vehicles as different as a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape Hybrid already meet this standard today.

Rep. Markey noted, “People are sick and tired of having the oil industry tip consumers upside down to shake money out of their pockets while the Bush Administration keeps pouring tax dollars into pacifying Iraq.  This is wrong, just plain wrong.  We need to retake control of our own fate, which we can do if we just adopt the same level of tough fuel economy standards that the rest of the world is adopting.”

April 9, 2007

CONTACT: Will Huntington
David Moulton