Originally created 11/21/02

Proposal to raise SUV fuel efficiency studied



NEW YORK -- The Bush administration is considering a proposal that would require sports utility vehicles to be more fuel-efficient, according to a report published Wednesday.

A proposal drafted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which annually establishes fuel-economy standards, suggests raising rates by a total of 1.5 miles a gallon by 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported. The plan was based on data compiled by Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Auto makers are required by law to have at least 18 months to make design changes if the agency proposes an increase in fuel-economy standards.

The proposal is in line with the Bush administration's goal of making the U.S. less oil-dependent on the Middle East.

The last rate increases for trucks were between 1993 and 1996, when the government raised standards by from 20.4 miles per gallon to 20.7 miles per gallon.

The Clinton administration's attempts to raise the standards in the late 1990s were rebuffed by Congress, which prevented NHTSA from considering any such increases.