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WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate's acceptance today of weak fuel efficiency standards for automobiles must not be the end of the debate on that issue, Senator Tom Carper said today. Carper, who voted for the Levin amendment, urged Congress to add to the energy bill clear and measurable objectives with the goal of reducing American dependence on foreign oil before sending the bill to conference with the House. "For us to pass out of this body and send to conference legislation that doesn't take meaningful, measurable steps toward reducing the amount of oil that we use for our cars, trucks, and vans is shortsighted and a mistake," Carper said during a speech from the Senate floor. "We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and we can. We need to do what's right for the nation and what is fair to the auto industry." Carper laid out "Five Guiding Principles" that should guide the debate on fuel efficiency: 1. We must reduce our oil imports.
2. We must set clear and measurable objectives and work to meet them.
3. We must "do our dead-level best" to preserve American jobs.
4. We must provide a reasonable lead time to the auto industry for any changes.
5. We need to encourage innovation.
While the Levin amendment lacks the necessary clear and measurable standards, Carper did note that parts of the bill make significant investments in research and development for fuel cells and hybrid technologies which will help Delaware's economy. Delaware is a national leader in fuel cell research and is home to a Dodge Durango plant that could produce hybrid vehicles. "The Levin amendment acknowledges that there's a responsibility for the federal government to help commercialize new technologies in fuel efficiency," Carper said. "The federal government has the opportunity to use its purchasing power to buy large numbers of cars, trucks, vans, jeeps, and other vehicles that are more fuel efficient."