By Joe Benton

November 6, 2007
Senator Hillary Clinton says that, if she's elected president, she'll demand that automakers achieve hybrid-like gas mileage standards as part of her fight to against global warming.

Clinton said she would seek fuel economy standards of 40 mpg in 2020 and 55 mpg by 2030.

Clinton warned that it is time for automakers to contribute to improving the nation's energy security after two decades of no improvement in the average fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.

I'm not going to ask the auto companies to do it alone," Clinton said. "I want to be a partner, a good partner, to help them transition to a clean energy future."

She promised $20 billion in low-interest bonds for automakers to update assembly plants as well as well as tax breaks for retiree costs and research and development for hybrid vehicles of the future.

A spokesman for an auto industry alliance said the proposal is not "technologically feasible" and ignores changes Americans want in their vehicles.

Clinton now joins all of the other front running Democratic presidential candidates and many of the Republicans in favoring tough new fuel economy standards.

The U.S. Senate has proposed a 35 mpg standard. By 2020. Clinton voted in June for the Senate bill but last month she signed a letter with 12 other senators backing a change to the bill, supported by the UAW, to keep small-car factories open in the United States.

The U.S. auto industry opposes the Senate bill and is working to reduce the fuel economy demands as the U.S. House of Representatives considers automobile and light truck fuel economy legislation.

Automakers argue that the bill would limit production of pickups and sport utilities and those vehicles are top sellers but are less fuel efficient than cars.

The auto companies support a bill proposed in the House of Representatives that sets a goal of 32 to 35 mpg by 2022.

Toyota too

Even Toyota has gotten into the act, sullying its green image somewhat. The Prius-maker has drawn fire from environmentalists for its opposition to the measure now pending in Congress.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the National Environmental Defense Fund have written Toyota stating that the automaker should support the measure in part because the automaker makes the best-selling gasoline-electric hybrid, the Prius.

"Unfortunately, Toyota's recent lobbying in the U.S. Congress is inconsistent with its global reputation an environmentally and socially responsible company," according to a letter to Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota's chairman and chief executive.