The Bush administration is weighing a proposal that would require auto manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of SUVs and light trucks by a teensy bit. Working off data submitted by the Big Three automakers in Detroit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent a draft plan to the White House that would raise fuel efficiency by about half a mile per gallon for three years, starting with the 2005 model year; by 2007, the standard would be 22.2 mpg. The increase would be the first since the standard went up three-tenths of a mile per gallon from 1993 to 1996. Several environmental groups are criticizing the proposal as weak in the face of a war in Iraq that could disrupt oil supplies. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) agrees: “The Bush administration claims to be striving for energy independence — yet this proposed increase in fuel economy for SUVs doesn’t even come close to what could be achieved using technologies that are already available.”
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