Letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ray LaHood, Secretary U.S. Department of Transportation

Today, Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), Co-Chair of the Congressional Automotive Caucus, and Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH), led a bipartisan letter signed by 53 Members of Congress to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), urging them to maintain prominent miles per gallon information on fuel efficiency labeling. The departments recently proposed two options for new labels, one of which prominently displays customary miles per gallon information, while the other employs letter grades which arbitrarily reserve the highest grades for a very narrow range of vehicles and penalize many others with mediocre grades.

"For years, consumers have relied on miles per gallon labeling to help them purchase the car or truck that is right for them. Changing this system to a letter grade would cause consumer confusion and tip the scales unfairly against many fuel efficient SUVs and trucks, relegating them to a C or C+ grade. I urge the DOT and the EPA to maintain prominent miles per gallon information on fuel efficiency labels to give consumers the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions on their automobiles," said Congressman Kildee.

The full text of the letter is below.

December 8, 2010

Lisa Jackson, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Ray LaHood, Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Administrator Jackson and Secretary LaHood:

We are writing regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's and the Department of Transportation's proposed redesign of fuel economy labels, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

As you know, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) mandated that the DOT issue a rulemaking implementing this law. On September 23, both EPA and DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking.

The proposed rule presents two primary label options. Label 1 minimizes miles per gallon (mpg), an objective measure of the fuel economy performance of a vehicle, in favor of a prominently displayed subjective "letter grade". In contrast, Label 2 focuses on the mpg metric and implements the other information Congress required under EISA. Consumers are very familiar with the mpg metric and rely on it when purchasing a new motor vehicle.

Additionally, unlike the mpg metric, the proposed grading system is biased in favor of certain types of vehicles. The "A" and "A+" categories are reserved for a very narrow range of vehicles, i.e., battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. However, a fuel efficient, clean diesel vehicle would be penalized with a low or mediocre grade. Similarly, most fuel efficient SUVs and pickup trucks would rate no higher than a "C+".

We hope you will agree that it is essential for consumers to have clear and concise information about the fuel economy performance of their vehicle. However, Label 1 marginalizes the most important piece of information on the fuel economy sticker, namely the fuel economy of the vehicle. Moreover, Label 1 unfairly promotes certain vehicles over others.

We believe that Label 2 better serves the needs of the consumer by continuing to prominently display the mpg of the vehicle, and is consistent with the statutory intent of EISA. Although the deadline for public comment has passed, we appreciate your agencies allowing us to submit this letter for the public record.

Sincerely,

Rep. Dale E. Kildee
Rep. Steve LaTourette
Rep. Ed Whitfield
Rep. G.K. Butterfield
Rep. Spencer Bachus
Rep. Sue Myrick
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
Rep. Gary Peters
Rep. Betty Sutton
Rep. John D. Dingell
Rep. Donald Manzullo
Rep. John Campbell
Rep. Todd Akin
Rep. John Barrow
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Sander Levin
Rep. Mike Simpson
Rep. Geoff Davis
Rep. Lee Terry
Rep. Mike Rogers
Rep. Candice S. Miller
Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez
Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi
Rep. Brett Guthrie
Rep. Phil Gingrey
Rep. John Sullivan
Rep. Scott Garrett
Rep. Elton Gallegly
Rep. Jim Matheson
Rep. Tim Holden
Rep. Sam Graves
Rep. Mike Ross
Rep. Robert Aderholt
Rep. Greg Walden
Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Rep. Andre Carson
Rep. Tim Ryan
Rep. Bennie Thompson
Rep. Cliff Stearns
Rep. Joseph R. Pitts
Rep. Dave Camp
Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Bob Latta
Rep. Ralph Hall
Rep. Tim Murphy
Rep. Lamar Smith
Rep. Dan Lungren
Rep. Dan Burton
Rep. Judy Biggert
Rep. Dave Loebsack
Rep. Mark Schauer
Rep. Bruce Braley