Congress Members: ‘Time Out’ Needed on Fuel Economy Regulation


Stephen W. Wade
2011 NADA Chairman
Stephen Wade — November, 2011

It seems like just yesterday we were talking about the new fuel economy standards for Model Years 2012-2016. But the Obama administration, driven to act by California, is particularly motivated to get the next round of standards done three years before they are required to do so. The latest proposal – 54.5 mpg by 2025 – is raising some eyebrows. Most automakers have, in principle, agreed to the plan. But it’s far from the finish line.  And if a growing number of members of Congress have their way, the administration’s efforts could be put on hold.

Last month, NADA applauded the bipartisan efforts of Congress members who sent a letter to the chairmen of the  powerful House appropriations committee and the House appropriations subcommittee asking them to give the Environmental Protection Agency  a one-year “time out” from their work on fuel economy standards for 2017-2025 and prevent California from implementing its “patchwork” fuel economy  regulations. Members of Congress asked for support of an amendment by U.S. Reps. Steve Austria, R-Ohio, and John Carter, R-Texas. That letter and recent oversight hearings featuring several prominent House members, including Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have ramped up pressure on the administration to justify its cost assessment of its proposed fuel economy rule. (By the administration’s own estimates, the proposed mandates will add an average of between $3,100 and $3,600 to the price of a new vehicle.)

NADA thinks it’s entirely too early to be talking about fuel economy proposals that won’t even be acted on until 2015. We’re backing a more practical approach that will allow us to learn from the current standards and see how consumers in the marketplace react to them. That’s why we support the Austria-Carter amendment, which seeks to ensure the impact of these rules on jobs, consumer choice and vehicle costs are properly evaluated. The amendment would also achieve one of NADA’s top regulatory priorities by temporarily returning rulemaking authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the only agency required by law to consider the economic and safety impact of fuel economy increases.

Since this issue could severely affect our ability to provide our customers with the cars and trucks they need and can afford, our goal is to have regulators address legitimate questions about cost and affordability. With the help of Congress, we just might get that chance.

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