WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that an energy bill with sharply higher fuel economy standards would be a nice little Christmas present for Americans.
Pelosis remark was a formal acknowledgment that her goal of getting energy legislation enacted this week before lawmakers break for Thanksgiving wont be met. But it confirmed that a bill with tougher fuel economy standards for automakers remains a top priority among Democratic leaders of Congress this year.
Pelosi, D-Calif., would not discuss what differences are keeping leaders from bringing a final version of energy legislation to a vote. But she said the need for higher corporate average fuel economy standards is increasing.
Now it is a pocketbook issue as well, she said, alluding to a recent sharp rise in gasoline prices.
The main benefit of higher standards is environmental, as a way to fight global warming, Pelosi said during a brief news conference at the Capitol today.
The Senate has passed a bill that would require cars and trucks to average 35 mpg by 2020, about 40 percent higher than todays vehicles average. The House has passed an energy bill with no fuel economy provision.
Congressional leaders have worked to resolve differences behind the scenes rather than in a traditional House-Senate conference committee. Most automakers favor a milder alternative to the Senate-passed fuel economy provision.
Pelosi held her news conference before it was widely known that a federal appeals court in California today overturned light-truck fuel economy standards for the 2008-11 model years. Those standards do not adequately account for the global warming threat posed by vehicles, the court ruled.