House Democrats Agree to Fuel Plan House Democrats agreed to a plan on Friday to raise fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Debbie Elliot talks about the agreement.
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House Democrats Agree to Fuel Plan

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House Democrats Agree to Fuel Plan

House Democrats Agree to Fuel Plan

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JOHN YDSTIE, Host:

Joining us now is NPR's Debbie Elliott who has been monitoring the negotiations over the past few days. Hello, Debbie.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: Good morning, John.

YDSTIE: Tell us about this compromise and how it was put together.

ELLIOTT: This new deal that was worked out late last night really came together when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to terms with the House's longest-serving member, Michigan Democrat John Dingell. He's the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has been a strong advocate for the auto industry. They had been fighting the higher fuel standards. He had to get on board in order to avoid an ugly battle here. Last night, he said the deal was reached; he called the new efficiency goal both aggressive and attainable.

YDSTIE: And the vote is expected next week, Wednesday, in the full House?

ELLIOTT: Now, this is a 40 percent increase over today's standard, which is twenty-seven and a half miles per gallon for cars and 22 for SUVs, vans and pickups. The auto industry had successfully fought off the higher fuel economy standards for decades, but I think the landscape changed with growing concerns about the nation's dependency on foreign oil.

YDSTIE: What else will this energy bill tackle?

ELLIOTT: Now, it should be noted that the legislation is not set in stone yet; it's being negotiated, as we speak, this weekend. But basically, oil refineries would be required to use about seven times more than they do today of corn- based ethanol and other biofuels. And non-public utilities would have to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind or solar power.

YDSTIE: Is there enough support to get this bill passed and signed by the president?

ELLIOTT: Democratic leaders say they think so, and the question is what will happen in the Senate. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the compromise good news; said once the House passes it, he'll get it to the Senate floor. And Michigan Democrat Carl Levin is now onboard, and that was very important to this.

YDSTIE: Thank you, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome, John.

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