Bush Administration Extends Contentious “Dual-Fuel” Rules

In a move that will make it easier for automakers to meet fuel-efficiency standards without actually improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, the Bush administration announced yesterday that it will extend for four years a system that gives auto manufacturers credits for producing “dual-fuel” vehicles that can run on either gasoline or an ethanol blend. Environmentalists criticized the move, pointing out that only 1 percent of dual-fuel vehicles actually do run on an ethanol blend, in part because fewer than 200 of the 176,000 gas stations in the country offer it. Enviros also argue that the credits automakers get for dual-fuel models enable them to produce more large, inefficient vehicles — mainly SUVs. A 2002 government study estimated that extending the credit would result in 9 billion to 14 billion more gallons of gasoline being consumed over the next four years.