Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fuel Efficiency for Congress

Last year Congress passed an energy bill that included a provision requiring members of the House of Representatives to lease only fuel-efficient vehicles, as determined by the EPA. Yesterday the EPA released its list.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's three-year drive to bring fuel efficiency to the federal vehicle-leasing program finally got some wheels. The EPA finally has compiled a list of what can be leased under Cleaver's 2005 proposal, which requires members of the House of Representatives who lease a vehicle taxpayer expense to pick one with low greenhouse-gas emissions.

"We have been preaching in Washington the importance of escaping from our dependence on foreign oil and reducing our carbon output," the Missouri Democrat said. "Now, each member who uses taxpayer money to lease a vehicle is forced to walk their talk." ...

More than 140 of the 435 House members use the leasing program, which pays the cost of the lease, gas and insurance. Leases usually run two years.

Many participants already lease vehicles with low greenhouse-gas emissions. The ones who're driving vehicles that didn't make the EPA list can continue to do so until their current leases expire.
Here is the full list of EPA-approved lease vehicles (pdf). (There is some explanation of the scores here.) There are a lot more SUVs on the list than I expected, probably because the bar for inclusion is set quite low. It seems that any vehicle that averaged more than 20 MPG made the list.

A lot of lawmakers have been complaining about being told what to drive. Nothing is stopping them from driving behemoths if they want; they just will not be able to make taxpayers fund their gas guzzlers. They can still buy whatever they want with their own money or with campaign funds.