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Congressman Issa – Step Away from the Clean Car Deal

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In the latest sign that no good deed in Washington goes unpunished, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has launched an investigation into proposed fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards for new cars, trucks and SUVs. After nearly a year and a half of public discussion, the Obama administration announced an agreement this summer with major automakers to nearly double fuel efficiency by 2025.

As the inventor of the Viper car alarm, perhaps Issa just can’t help wanting to sound an alarm whenever he sees something to do with cars. The problem in this case is that the crime is one of Issa’s own creation – trying to deny Americans cleaner, more fuel efficient cars and trucks.

While these standards must still be finalized through an ongoing regulatory process, the current agreement establishes a framework that would increase fuel efficiency standards to the equivalent of 54.5 miles-per-gallon and set a greenhouse gas standard of 163 grams-per-mile in model year 2025. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation are poised to release a proposal for public comment in the coming weeks.

This agreement is supported by major automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota and others, California and other clean car states, the United Auto Workers, and numerous consumer, national security, business, and environmental organizations.

Unfortunately, instead of applauding this collaborative effort, Congressman Issa is using his position as Chairman of the House Oversight committee to hold a hearing to attack these standards.

What’s Wrong with Saving Consumers Money, Creating Jobs, Preventing Pollution, and Cutting America’s Oil Dependence?

In his letter to the agencies, Congressman Issa claimed that these new standards are illegal and not in the public interest. So who benefits from these standards? Pretty much anyone who drives a car, is looking for a job, likes clean air, or thinks America is too reliant on oil. That seems pretty clearly in the public interest to me.

The numbers are clear – these standards are one of the biggest single steps we can take to saving consumers money at the gas pump, curbing auto pollution, and breaking America’s oil dependence:

These standards clearly benefit the public. In fact, every member of the House Oversight Committee represents a district that will see real economic, environmental, and energy security benefits. Why? Because there is not a single state in the country that does not benefit from these standards.

Issa’s claim that the standards are illegal seems to ignore that the agencies are being set based on laws passed by Congress – the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 – the latter Issa voted for and the former was passed before he came to Congress and has subsequently been upheld by multiple court rulings including the Supreme Court.

Americans & Californians Overwhelmingly Support Strong Standards

Issa not only has the facts wrong – he’s out of step with the vast majority of Americans and Californians who actually want cars and trucks that save them money at the pump, clean up our air, and cut America’s oil dependence. In a recent poll, 85 percent of voters nationwide stated that they support setting stronger fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards for cars and trucks– support that extends across party affiliation and region of the country. Even small business owners support stronger standards by 87 percent according to recent polling.

Most telling, 81percent of voters in Issa’s state of California overwhelmingly support standards that require automakers to cut global warming pollution from new cars and trucks. That support even extends to California republicans who support these standards by 64 percent.

Americans are clear. This is the kind of policy that they want to see from Washington. By unleashing better technology and American ingenuity, we can spend less on gasoline, create new jobs, clean up our air, and break our reliance on oil.

Mr. Issa – please step away from the clean car deal and turn off the alarm.

Posted in: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming, Vehicles

About the author: Brendan Bell advocates for national transportation policies to reduce U.S. oil dependence, clean up our air, and curb global warming.

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