This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 07, 2004

Department of Transportation Proposes Fuel Economy Reforms

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing to revamp its fuel efficiency standards for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, which the DOT classifies as "light trucks." On December 22nd, DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an advance notice of a proposed rulemaking to reform the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The notice includes several reforms that the NHTSA is considering, including redefining what constitutes a light truck, creating two or more categories of light trucks, and increasing the scope of the standards to include vehicles weighing between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds. Such heavyweight vehicles—including the Hummer H2, Ford Excursion, Lincoln Navigator, GMC Yukon XL K2500, Chevrolet Suburban K2500, GMC Sierra, and Chevrolet Silverado—are currently exempt from fuel-economy standards. The current proposal addresses only rule changes and does not include proposed fuel efficiency standards. The NHTSA is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until late March. See the NHTSA press release and the NHTSA's CAFE Rulemaking Actions Web page.

Meanwhile, new emissions standards for motorcycles promise to eventually save about 12 million gallons of gasoline each year. Although aimed chiefly at reducing emissions, the new standards—established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 23rd—will reduce evaporative emissions from motorcycles by preventing gasoline fumes from escaping from fuel hoses and tanks. While helping to avoid ozone, those changes will also help to avoid wasting gasoline. The emissions standards will be phased in starting in 2006; the evaporative emissions standards will take effect in 2008. See the EPA press release.