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Time for a Veto

Statement by Jennifer Morgan Director, Climate Change Campaign World Wildlife Fund

"Some in Congress are obviously in the pocket of the auto industry, blocking action and dragging down others who have show they want to act to curb global warming. The President needs to stand up for the environment and veto the 2001 transportation appropriations bill.

"For five years Congress has stalled American technology with the CAFE rider-but they can't stop the world. Many countries are moving forward in producing highly fuel-efficient automobiles as part of national plans to combat global warming. The U.S. has always been on the cutting edge of technology, but this rider will keep us from joining the world to meet higher standards.

"World Wildlife Fund sees a vote for this anti-CAFE rider as a vote against the environment and a vote against technological progress.

"Americans have shown time and again that they care about the future of the world's wildlife and wild spaces. Global warming threatens habitats around the world, and this rider would prevent the U.S. from technological progress and protecting the environment that Americans care about."

Today's transportation funding bill includes a rider that would continue to tie the hands of the Administration and hold back technology that would make cars and trucks cleaner and more efficient. A 'Motion to Strike' to clean up the bill was expected but not offered.

CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy, standards are the minimum efficiency requirement for cars and light trucks. The CAFE standards are among our nation's most successful environmental laws-doubling the efficiency of cars since enacted in 1975.

Raising the miles-per-gallon standard for light trucks alone would slash oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 240 million tons per year. While the current standards for autos have stagnated for nearly a decade at 27.5 miles per gallon, the standards for heavily polluting sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other light trucks lag behind at 20.7 miles per gallon-a large loophole in the CAFE law.

Increasing CAFE standards will mean savings for U.S. citizens at the gas pumps and reduction of U.S. dependence on foreign oil. However, today's rider bars the Administration from even studying this problem. Stripping the rider is the first step in creating the more efficient cars of the future.