While two very important pieces of the House Energy Bill —the Renewable Electricity Standard and a renewable energy incentive package—were taken out of the energy bill before the final vote last night in the Senate we will finally have, after three decades of stagnation, standards that will require the automakers to give all of us more fuel-efficient choices. The Senate passed their version of the Energy Bill yesterday by a whopping 86-8 vote. This trimmed-down version of the bill will now go back to the House for one final vote next week. Then, off to the President’s desk, where George W. Bush has already said that he will sign it.
I’ll let our press release speak more to the details of how this went down, but here’s why I, for one, am so excited about this kick start, and it’s not related to the fact that this is what I do for a living, and it’s not even because I am concerned for the future of our planet—it’s actually pure selfish interest.
Thing is, I’m running out of space in my car. My boys, six and three, are actually starting to dangle their feet into the seat well, making it harder to pack up the Prius for the long trips, and the station wagon which in reality gets about 25 mpg makes for a pricey trip. Additionally, the boys are starting to have their friends over, and the days of throwing all the kids into the back of the wagon to roll around while you drive are long gone (fond as I am of those memories). And, with my parents thinking of moving up north to be around the grandkids, it’s either upsize the vehicle, or we’ve got a great big convoy, guzzlin’ through the night.
It was in part this “enlightened self-interest” that spurred me to make our 2nd Driving Change Network Earth Day Challenge as a petition campaign to help bring to this country a Toyota hybrid minivan like the one they sell in Japan. It was also why, though I can’t say I’m instinctively a “SUV guy” I drooled at the initial rumors that GM’s first true hybrid was going to be a full-sized vehicle using the advanced drivetrain that had been so successful on their buses. A seven-seat SUV that would top my station wagon’s fuel economy? I was in.
Yet Toyota still hems and haws over whether to bring a fuel efficient hybrid minivan to the U.S. And you know from my many posts that the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon hybrids favor muscle over miles. So, again, I’m stuck—and I don’t think I’m the only one in this boat.
I truly believe that if these fuel economy standards had been in place (I mean, the National Academy of Sciences analysis from a couple years back indicated that we have the technology to get to 37 mpg fleetwide already without sacrificing performance or safety), Toyota would likely already have the hybrid minivan in the U.S., and GM would have used its hybrid technology to max out mileage in order to help them meet the higher standards—and I’d already be behind the wheel of my fuel-efficient family car.
At the end of the day, this is about choices. Whether you need to save money, want to save the planet, or believe we should be throwing less dough at overseas oil interests, everyone needs fuel-efficient choices in every vehicle class to even have the opportunity to do their part when choosing a vehicle. In a few years, many people denied the opportunity to make the choice for fuel efficiency will finally get that chance. That, to me, is the most exciting thing about this historic day.
My congrats to everyone out there who worked to make this possible. Well done!
Posted by: ScottN