Diesel has a friend in John Dingell. The Michigan Dem-ocrat and auto industry-advocate who helped forge much of the federal regulation governing the industry says he will reintroduce legislation this year aimed at cleaning up diesel fuel and making it more available to consumers.

“I plan to improve upon and reintroduce the Clean Diesel Act of 2003,” he says during his keynote address to the annual Ward's 10 Best Engines awards banquet in Detroit.

In 2003, Dingell introduced House Resolution 2209 to provide tax incentives for buyers of diesel. The bill also set strict limits on oil refiners, pushing them toward producing cleaner diesel by 2011 and offering to reward their efforts with tax credits. The bill died in committee.

Dingell also backs research aimed at hybridization and advancing hydrogen research, but he's especially keen on diesel's prospects.

“I still believe advanced diesel technology holds the most promise to improve fuel economy, to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and to satisfy consumer demands,” he says.

Some auto makers currently sell diesel-powered passenger cars in the U.S., most notably DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG. VW says 10% of deliveries carry diesel powertrains and Mercedes-Benz and Jeep each sell one diesel vehicle, with plans for more on the way.

VW's diesel cars are among the best in fuel economy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, but they are among the worst when it comes to emissions.