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Continuing the fight for achievable CAFE standards

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U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold
October 25, 2007

As Congress works on legislation addressing the country’s energy priorities, I am working to make sure the final bill includes achievable Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Having grown up in Janesville, I understand how important the GM plant is to Janesville’s economy. We deserve energy legislation that addresses the nation’s energy needs and supports hardworking families in Janesville and across the country.


Since the Senate started debating the energy bill, I have been fighting for reasonable CAFE standards. Most recently, I organized a coalition of senators to write the Senate’s Democratic leadership and urge them to maintain the distinction in current law between standards for cars and trucks. Passenger cars and light-duty trucks are inherently different. They should have separate fuel economy standards. We fully agree that the final energy package needs to increase vehicle fuel economy requirements, but it should do so without undercutting American workers.


It is critical for Janesville’s working families that the car-truck distinction be maintained. It is also important that the CAFE provision ensure that consumers can access a range of affordable pickups, SUVs and vans and protect American jobs in this vital manufacturing sector. As we do what’s right for our energy needs, we can also do what’s right for consumers and for our economy.


The letter I led recently on CAFE standards is just one way I have worked to push the CAFE issue forward in Congress. I have also joined colleagues in calling for a formal House-Senate conference to meet to draft the final bill. Instead of informal, backroom deal-making, we should have an open process that allows advocates of a more reasonable CAFE standard a better chance of being heard and having our concerns addressed.


Since the Senate first considered the energy bill, I have worked to ensure that the final version includes a CAFE standard that supports working families in Janesville and elsewhere. When the Senate considered the bill earlier this year, I was disappointed that the “Pryor-Bond-Levin” amendment to create an aggressive but achievable CAFE standard was never brought to a vote. As in previous years when the Senate considered CAFE, I strongly supported their efforts, which labor unions and the auto industry backed.


But the Senate’s June debate over CAFE standards was just the beginning of the debate over this bill. This is an ongoing effort, and one where I’ve been proud to work with people throughout the Janesville community, including working with management at the GM plant and members of the United Auto Workers and the Forward Janesville business community.


As the debate goes forward, I will take every opportunity to work to make sure the bill takes the right approach on CAFE standards. Reasonable CAFE standards, including a distinction between car and trucks, will reduce our dependence on foreign oil while ensuring that my hometown of Janesville—and hometowns like it across the country—still has the family-supporting jobs that are vital to the strength of the community.


Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., can be reached by mail at 506 Hart Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-4904; phone (202) 224-5323; e-mail Russell_Feingold@Feingold.senate.gov.



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