A U.S. government report soon to be released shows a slight increase in the fuel economy of family vehicles in the 2000 model year, but the rise is primarily because of a loophole that gives automakers extra mileage credit for vehicles that can run on ethanol, even though almost no one uses the fuel. In actuality, the surging popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks has lowered the average fuel economy of the nation’s vehicles in recent years. Last month, for the sixth year in a row, the House approved a transportation spending bill with a provision that bans the government from even studying the possibility of raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.