Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta is urging Congress to accelerate a review of automotive fuel efficiency by immediately allowing his department to begin rulemaking leading to research into corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.

In a letter sent to Congress yesterday, Mineta said the country’s automotive industry has a technological opportunity to continue improving vehicle fuel efficiency.

“Consistent with the President’s National Energy Policy, I would like to work with you and the Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to start right away with its rulemaking process under current law to improve vehicle fuel efficiency standards,” he wrote. “Responsibly crafted CAFE standards under existing law should increase efficiency without negatively impacting the U.S. automotive industry.”

Mineta’s letter added that legislative ‘riders’ attached to appropriations bills in the past several years have prohibited DOT from renewing its research into CAFE standards.