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McCain To Push To Lower Auto Emissions

Reuters in Phoenix – Updated on Jun 23, 2008 – SCMP

White House hopeful John McCain will push on Monday for car makers to build more environmentally friendly vehicles, threatening new legislation if they do not comply and proposing tax breaks to encourage consumers to buy “cleaner” cars.

According to excerpts of his speech obtained by reporters, the Republican presidential candidate will call for auto manufacturers to speed the process of making engines that can use alcohol-based fuels.

“Whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office, or my signature on an act of Congress, we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil,” he will say.

The Arizona senator, who has wrapped up his party’s White House nomination, will also propose tax incentives to prod Americans to buy vehicles that generate less pollution.

“For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a US$5,000 (HK$39,000) tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car,” he will say.

“For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.”

Car makers have argued in the past that consumers do not always favour fuel-efficient cars and that government incentives would help encourage people to buy them.

Mr McCain will say that the existing financial penalties levied on car makers for not complying with fuel efficiency standards â known as US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) â are too low.

“CAFE standards should serve large national goals in energy independence, not the purpose of small-time revenue collection,” he will say.

A McCain adviser said the senator supported a higher fine for noncompliance with the standards, but did not have a specific numerical proposal at this time.

McCain’s speech, set to be given in Fresno, California, is his latest outlining a series of proposals to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming. Last week he angered environmentalists by proposing that the United States lift a ban on offshore drilling.

High gasoline prices have put energy issues in the spotlight of the presidential campaign. Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, McCain’s rival in the November election, laid out a plan on Sunday to crack down on speculation in oil markets.

McCain also calls for a hefty US$300 million prize “the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

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