By Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Sierra Club
This morning the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, held a subcommittee hearing to attack newly announced vehicle standards that will raise the average efficiency of new passenger cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
You read that correctly, House Republicans are attacking the same vehicle standards that are estimated to save the average consumer more than $3,500 over the life of the vehicle and cut our dependence on oil by 1.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2030 (the same amount we imported last year from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined).
In an effort to score political points, committee Republicans railed against vehicle standards, decrying the process in which they were developed and labeling them as harmful for consumers and small businesses. But outside the hearing room there is little support for their talking points.
Indeed, 13 major automakers have signed letters of commitment noting that these standards are achievable. Consumer advocates have lauded the proposed standards for the savings they will deliver at the pump. National security groups note the decreased dependence on foreign oil that more efficient vehicles will bring. And environmentalists note that these vehicle standards are the biggest single step the administration can take to reduce carbon pollution.
But the overwhelming support for strong vehicle standards didn’t keep committee Republicans from ripping vehicle standards and the more efficient models that come with them. For example:
- Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), claimed that the Obama Administration has a “war on the private automobile.” I’ll wait for him to hold a hearing on the bailout of the auto industry.
- Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), a Chevrolet auto dealer himself, called Chevy Volt buyers “foolish” and said he ordered his employees never to order one (they did anyways). So much for breaking our addiction to oil…
- Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), despite claiming on her website that “energy independence is a national priority,” deemed tax credits for electric vehicles “wasteful spending.”
- Jeremy Anwyl, a Republican witness and CEO of Edmunds.com, stated that “consumers are definitely not on board,” with standards that will provide them with more efficient vehicle choices. And yet fuel efficient cars are flying off dealership lots.
Despite the Republicans political theater, the vehicle standards discussed in today’s hearings are a success story, one that will keep money in our local economies instead of sending it overseas for oil, drive innovation and protect our environment.
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) summarized the hearing best when he asked a question of the witnesses: “I must be missing something. What’s wrong with saving fuel?”
Indeed, the only thing missing from today’s hearing was common sense.
Editor’s Note: This column comes to us as a cross post courtesy of Sierra Club. Author credit for the piece goes to Jesse Prentice-Dunn.