The Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and the Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-TX), today held a hearing examining car and truck efficiency standards set by both the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that could have significant economic impacts on consumers.
The subcommittees looked at the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards set by NHTSA and the EPA. Members examined the impact these standards will have on new car costs and safety. Members also sought an update on the ongoing Midterm Evaluation process, the status of economic projections and assumptions used to develop CAFE/GHG standards, and what can be done to eliminate the different standards between NHTSA, the EPA, and the states.
Peter Welch testifies before the joint subcommittees.
When discussing the standards, Peter Welch, President of the National Automobile Dealers Association, commented, "If the fuel economy policies force auto manufacturers to produce vehicles that customers do not want or cannot afford to buy, no one wins."
Mitch Bainwol offers testimony.
Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, discussed the problem with the administration's failure to unify the standards, commenting, "Unfortunately, the principle of "One National Program' has not materialized as harmonization gaps remain and will increase in the future. Compliance with one federal program does not guarantee compliance with all. These discrepancies are creating immediate problems that must be addressed now ."
Vice Chairman Olson presides over second panel testimony.
"When two agencies have conflicting priorities, no one wins. It's not just automakers who suffer if we don't get this right," said Vice Chairman Olson. "The American people will be greatly impacted by a patchwork that increases costs, when it could have been avoided. I hope that working together, we can find common ground to harmonize these standards and develop the real vision of One National Program."
Mr. John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers, discussed the importance of getting the Midterm Evaluation process right, stating, "The Midterm Evaluation is critical to the overall goals of a strong, unified national program. Federal and state fuel economy and GHG emissions standards must be aligned to minimize differences and costs while maximizing environmental and energy benefits."
"I have serious concerns about the real-world impact that NHTSA's standards for model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles will have on the economy, the health of the auto industry, and consumer welfare," stated Chairman Burgess. "I believe in fuel efficiency, and energy independence. But I also believe in policy that is based on real world data, and consumer choice. As strongly as I feel about energy efficiency, I feel equally as strongly that the government should not be in the business of telling consumers what they can and cannot purchase. I look forward to continuing to examine the assumptions that NHTSA and EPA are looking at as they require ever increasing fuel efficiency standards and how they further NHTSA's core mission in providing safe and secure vehicular travel for the American people."
Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, "Being from Michigan, I worry about the impact these standards could have on the long-term health of the auto sector. That's why I hope EPA and NHTSA use this opportunity to adjust the targets for Model Years 2022 to 2025 to more reasonable and achievable levels. Motor vehicles are getting more efficient and will continue to do so, but we need to make certain that it happens in a way that maximizes benefits for consumers and preserves the health of the automotive industry".