WASHINGTON (AP) Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester supported a Senate effort to mandate new automobile fuel economy standards Thursday. The Senate voted, without a roll call vote, to increase automobile fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon, the first significant boost demanded of automakers in nearly 20 years. The measure, added to a wide-ranging energy bill, would require a 35 mpg fleet average including SUVs and pickup trucks by
2020. It would also require that automakers make half of their vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol fuel by 2015. The compromise came after intense lobbying all week by environmentalists and automakers, who supported two different proposals to revise the standards. Earlier this week, Baucus and Tester, both Democrats, said they were talking to both sides and hadn’t made up their minds how to vote. Key to the discussions was a view among some senators that a proposed requirement that automakers increase mileage by an additional 4 percent per year after 2020 was unacceptable to the auto industry and could not get enough support in the Senate. The compromise eliminated that 4 percent mandate. Both senators said the new standards are fair. “I’m inclined to support this plan because it’ll help America move toward better use of energy, cut down on emissions that cause global warming, and make sure Montanans can still drive through snow to get to work or pull a horse trailer at the same time,” Baucus said. Tester said the language “is good news for Montana and a country too dependent on foreign oil. “This legislation to increase standards is a positive result of people working together to reduce carbon emissions, make America more energy efficient and less tied to Middle Eastern oil,” he said.