The U.S. Senate sidestepped a vote on a potentially controversial measure to require fuel efficiency ratings for replacement tires, but the issue could come up again in Congress.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., sponsored the fuel efficiency measure, one of many amendments that never made it to a vote when the Senate considered a massive energy policy bill July 31, its last day before August recess.
The Schumer amendment became moot when the Senate-rather than considering the energy package before it-decided instead by an 81-14 vote to adopt an energy bill it had passed the year before when the Democrats were the Senate's controlling party.
A House-Senate conference committee will meet after recess to reconcile differences between the House and Senate energy packages. It's possible the Schumer amendment could be introduced again during that process.
``That's something we will be watching closely,'' said a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
But Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association, said she thought it unlikely the fuel efficiency amendment would reappear in conference.
``We have to watch whether Schumer will try to add this to another bill, this year or next,'' she said.
In a press release, Mr. Schumer relied heavily on information from the California Energy Commission to support his stand for fuel efficiency ratings.
He quoted the commission's figures stating that motorists could save $50 to $150 in fuel costs over the life of their tires if tires were rated for fuel efficiency, while the U.S. could save 275,000 barrels of oil per day.
``If fuel efficient tires are good enough when you buy a new car, they should be good enough when it's time to replace those tires down the road-and tire manufacturers should make that option available for every car, truck, SUV and minivan driver,'' Mr. Schumer said.