Hoyer: CAFE will be in Energy Bill

E&ENews PM (subs. req’d) reports:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) today pledged to include a provision that resembles the Senate’s corporate average fuel economy plan in “any energy bill” that makes it to President Bush.

Hoyer also hinted that House leaders may sidestep a floor fight over CAFE and wait instead for a House-Senate conference to address the issue. The Senate passed a broad energy bill last month with a CAFE standard of 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2020, an increase supported by Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The rest of story is below:

“Without getting too mired in the details of it, I will tell you it is my view that any bill that goes to the president will have CAFE in it,” Hoyer told reporters today. “Any energy bill that goes to the president will include CAFE standards very close to the Senate provision.”

Hoyer’s statements are the clearest sign yet that House Democratic leaders see the current energy bill process as the vehicle for addressing CAFE.

House Democratic leaders hope to bring their energy package — drawn from bills passed by several committees — to the floor this month. But Hoyer did not say whether CAFE would be addressed through an amendment on the House floor.

Asked if the House measure will include fuel economy, Hoyer said “not necessarily” and indicated House leaders may wait until House-Senate negotiations. “CAFE is in the Senate bill and will be in the conference, and I want to repeat my comment: The energy bill that we send to the president will have an increase in CAFE standards in it,” he said.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has proposed a CAFE increase that would reach the Senate level but get there slightly faster. A spokeswoman for the lawmaker did not say whether he would seek to offer it on the House floor.

“It is our goal to ensure the energy bill that comes out of Congress and goes to the president this summer has strong fuel economy standards in it, and we are going to pursue a strategy that maximizes the likelihood that we meet that goal,” said Markey spokeswoman Jessica Schafer.

The trajectory of CAFE has been uncertain. House Energy Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) has said he wants CAFE included in global warming legislation later this year. Dingell, an ally of Detroit automakers, has also criticized the Senate-passed bill.

Dingell said several days ago he favors a plan offered by Reps. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.). The Hill-Terry bill would keep separate standards for passenger cars and light trucks but require that the average standard for the overall fleet of vehicles sold in the United States would be no less than 32 mpg and no greater than 35 mpg by 2022.

Environmentalists say the measure would pre-empt California and other states from setting their own greenhouse gas emissions regulations from automobiles

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