The auto industry today aligned with the White House
in the debate over a congressional bid to block the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon emissions while
lawmakers work to pass a climate bill, warning that such an attempt to
yank EPA authority "would collapse" last year's agreement to raise fuel-efficiency standards.
"Automakers agree with the fundamental premise that Congress should determine how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
president Dave McCurdy wrote in a letter to congressional leaders of
both parties. "However, if these resolutions are enacted into law, the
historic agreement creating [a higher national fuel standard] would
The congressional proposals at issue are sponsored
by Republicans and Democrats alike. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has won
Democratic support for her resolution of disapproval aimed at the EPA's ability to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act, though she has stopped short of seeking a vote as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) pursues a separate plan to force a two-year delay in EPA activity on the issue.
The Obama administration, which has used the specter of EPA action as a means to spur congressional movement on climate change, argues that
any bid to remove the agency's clean-air authority would nullify its
deal with automakers to raise fuel-efficiency (CAFE) standards to 35.5
miles per gallon by 2016.
In his letter, McCurdy echoes the White House's concern and counters assertions made by auto dealers
and other business groups that the Murkowski and Rockefeller
resolutions would not imperil any CAFE deal. Automakers view the
anti-EPA resolutions as "express[ing a] legitimate concern," McCurdy
wrote, but would prefer lawmakers focus on crafting a national
fuel-efficiency policy that ranges beyond 2016.
An excerpt from McCurdy's letter follows after the jump.
The Alliance believes that the [national CAFE deal] fostered by the
Obama administration is critical to the efficient regulation of motor
vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and related fuel economy in the United
States, not only for the 2012-2016 model years, but also for the 2017
model year and beyond. ...
However, given what appears to be
the inevitable consequence of the proposed resolutions of disapproval,
we do not believe they are the proper vehicles for members of Congress
to express their legitimate concern that Congress, not EPA or the
states, design the national response to climate change. Instead, we
urge Congress to move quickly to ensure that the national program does
not end in 2016, and we stand ready to work with members to develop a
federally-led process to achieve a permanent national program.