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Rep. Lee Terry Fuel Economy Ad: Historic Fiction

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It recently came to our attention that Representative Lee Terry from Nebraska is running a campaign ad citing the Union of Concerned Scientists and analysis we did some years ago and claiming that he authored the “historic” fuel economy legislation that passed Congress in 2007. I’ve got two words to describe this new ad: “historic fiction.”

This isn’t even a case of playing fast and loose with the facts. This is a case of pure fabrication and misrepresentation. Here are the facts:

  • Rep. Terry (R-NE) claims that he authored the final fuel economy bill that passed Congress, public law 110-140,  when, in fact, he and Rep. Baron Hill drafted a bill, HR 2927 or Hill-Terry, that was much weaker than the final provision and would have undermined critical features of today’s vehicle standards. It was never even voted on in the House. UCS opposed the Hill-Terry bill when it was introduced.
  • The ad and material on his website cite 2007 analysis UCS performed to calculate the benefits of a totally different fuel economy bill authored by Representatives Markey (D-MA) and Platts (R-PA). The references to barrels of oil saved, the jobs created, and the emissions reduced were the computed benefits resulting from passage of the Markey-Platts bill, not the Hill-Terry legislation.
  • The Hill-Terry bill was a weaker proposal than either the Markey-Platts bill or the legislation that passed the Senate in July of 2007. As a result Congressman Terry’s bill would have led to more oil use than what became law.
  • The Hill-Terry bill would have also made matters worse by taking away EPA and state authority to protect public health and welfare through the Clean Air Act. The EPA recently used this authority to cut global warming emissions from new cars and light-trucks in half by 2025 and save those new vehicle buyers $8,000 over the life of their vehicles.
  • UCS was in good company in opposing the Hill-Terry bill – a number of national consumer, public health, and environmental organizations; 12 Attorneys General; and even members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature sent letters to the House urging opposition to the Hill-Terry bill.

It is also confusing that Representative Terry is misrepresenting UCS statements and analysis to tout his “leadership” on fuel economy, while he is publicly questioning whether the recently finalized fuel economy/vehicle emissions standards (supported by automakers, labor, consumer and national security groups, and the Union of Concerned Scientists) are good policy.

Our view is that honesty would be his best policy. UCS sent a letter to the Terry campaign on Friday requesting that he refrain from citing our name, analysis, and materials inaccurately, and correct the record. We are awaiting his reply.

 

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About the author: Michelle Robinson has more than 25 years of experience in public policy and advocacy. She joined the Clean Vehicles program in 1992 and is a nationally recognized expert on state and federal transportation policy. See Michelle's full bio.

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