Kerry Pushes for High Fuel Economy

As Americans face record-high gas prices, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is hawking his plan to raise automobile fuel-economy standards by as much as 50 percent by 2015. While few think Kerry could actually achieve this goal — most congressional Republicans and many Midwestern Democrats oppose the plan — he has put the debate over fuel economy on the front burner. In his campaign, Kerry has framed the issue as one of national security, saying, “The threats that America faces today don’t just come from gun barrels, they come from oil barrels — and we need to disarm that danger.” His plan for revamping fuel-economy rules stands in sharp contrast to that of the Bush administration, which admits that saving gas is not its primary goal. Fuel economy is only one of several environmental issues that sharply divide the presidential candidates. Some political analysts believe that the environment — while seldom a top concern of the electorate — could influence crucial swing votes in this year’s election.