Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767

Karilyn Gower, Press Officer
w. (202) 588-7779

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742

Nicholas Florko, Communications Officer, Global Trade Watch
w. (202) 454-5108

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog

Follow us on Twitter


May 8, 2007

Senate Committee Approves Weak Fuel Economy Bill

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen*

We are dismayed that the fuel economy bill approved by the Senate Commerce Committee today doesn’t require any real or significant improvement in fuel economy. Currently, the truck fleet achieves an average fuel economy of 21.8 mpg, and the car fleet reaches 30 mpg. Today’s bill sets a target of merely 35 mpg thirteen years hence, which is 5 mpg less than the Senate was poised to require within ten years ago, in 1990. It is also much lower than what manufacturers could easily achieve with the wide variety of technologies available to them.

In fact, the bill gives the government excuses not to reach the "target" - if the target or a mandatory increase is not "cost-effective" - so that it’s not even a mandatory target at all. It also allows the government to set standards based on a vehicle’s “footprint,” which means that larger vehicles can comply with lower fuel economy levels than smaller ones. This is the opposite of what is needed to address global warming. This is definitely not maximum feasible fuel economy.

On the positive side, the bill will be sent to the floor with a provision requiring that SUVs and light trucks be compatible with cars in a collision. It also will give consumers information to help them buy the most fuel-efficient vehicles. Finally, the bill gives $25 million (up from a paltry $1.7 million in 2007) to do what I was able to do when I set the first fuel economy standards in 1977: conduct thorough fact-finding investigations to ensure that the standards are set based on the best available evidence about manufacturer capacity and technological developments to achieve the maximum feasible fuel economy.

Fuel economy is an essential component of any serious effort to achieve energy independence and address the transportation sector’s role in global warming. Unfortunately, this bill is a political compromise that now compromises the very purpose of the fuel economy program.

* Joan Claybrook was administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 1977-1981.


Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.