A panel appointed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has eased up on the auto industry in a draft report on fuel-economy standards. An earlier draft, which was leaked to the New York Times, said big increases in fuel economy for cars and SUVs would be possible over the next six to 10 years; the revised version says 10 to 12 years would be necessary. The revised version also raises the estimated cost to consumers of the improvements in fuel economy, and cautions more strongly that the changes could lead to vehicle safety problems. Enviros accused the auto industry of pressuring the panel to weaken its conclusions. Industry reps denied the charge, though some admit to contacting panel members to make their cases.

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