Clean Car Hearings Hit the Road – First Stop: Detroit

January 20, 2012 | 12:04 pm
Michelle Robinson
Former Contributor

My nominee for quote of the week comes from this paragraph in a January 17th New York Times story:

“We’re celebrating something that has taken a long time to reach,” said Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who helped quash previous efforts to impose higher mileage standards. “There appears to be no significant opposition amongst responsible persons.”

Representative John Dingell said this at the first of a series of hearings happening across the country on the 2017-2025 clean car standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation. It is important to take a moment and reflect on how extraordinary it is that Representative Dingell – the longest serving member of the House and a long-time opponent of increased fuel efficiency standards – was the first to testify in support of the proposed standards at the Detroit hearing. The second half of the quote really says it all: “there appears to be no significant opposition amongst responsible persons.”

Dingell’s official written statement can be found here.

Today Jim Kliesch, our Research Director, will testify at the hearing in Philadelphia. According to reports, some 250 people have signed up to testify – an impressive number reflecting the strong support for the proposed standards from the public, the United Auto Workers, and even the auto manufacturers themselves. It appears that the auto dealers, represented by the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), continue to be a lone voice in opposition. They continue to pull bogus numbers out of the air to argue against the standards and, frankly, their own self-interest. Perhaps NADA falls outside that “responsible persons” category Representative Dingell alluded to in his remarks.

The agencies plan to finalize the 2025 standards by July, and though there is broad support, the details of how they are implemented matter a lot. We need to ensure that the standards do not include opportunities for the auto industry to game the system and reduce the important benefits of the clean car program. The public comment period is set to end on February 13, so you still have time to weigh in on this important government decision – one that strengthens a program that will do more to reduce our reliance on oil, reduce global warming pollution and save consumers money at the gas pump than any other in our nation’s history. These standards, combined with the decision announced yesterday on the Keystone XL pipeline, are two important milestones on the road to real energy security and a smarter national energy policy. The trick is to stay on that road in the months and years to come.