WASHINGTON -- After Hurricane Katrina, many lawmakers say they are hearing like never before from constituents who are angry about high gasoline prices and fuel shortages.
Members of Congress who repeatedly have failed to persuade their colleagues to boost vehicle fuel economy standards say their proposal would pass now - if they could get leaders to hold a vote.
The measure would raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for cars and light trucks to a combined 33 mpg over a decade. Although the House rejected the proposal as recently as April, its sponsors reintroduced it last week.
"If there was a vote this week, it would be successful," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said last week.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Science Committee and chief sponsor of the measure, says "momentum is with us." But he concedes the difficulty of getting a measure to the House floor this year.
The light-truck standard for 2006 is 21.6 mpg. The car standard remains at 27.5 mpg.
Congress enacted a comprehensive energy law last month that did not address fuel economy standards. But with gasoline costing more than $3 a gallon in many areas of the country and supply shortages in some places, lawmakers and interest groups say the fuel economy issue demands attention.
"This may be something that is positive as a result of Katrina," Boehlert told Automotive News. But "I would have preferred that Katrina never happened."