WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said last week it will extend for four more years the fuel economy credits automakers get for building vehicles capable of using alternative fuels - even if their owners burn only gasoline.
A 1988 law said the credits would end with the 2004 model year unless extended by regulation. Automakers, especially DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Co., use the credits to meet corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards.
Meanwhile, some senators said late last week they will seek to eliminate the credit program with an amendment to the wide-ranging energy bill now in the Senate. They say it is ineffective.
The amendment, by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also would require cars and trucks to average 36 mpg by 2015, about 50 percent more than current vehicles. But companies could buy and sell credits for reducing greenhouse gases.
Other lawmakers, including Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., plan an amendment of their own. It would drop big CAFE increases from the legislation and give the administration a deadline for toughening standards.