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US House Republicans blast proposed new fuel economy standards

http://www.chemnet.com   Oct 13,2011 Platts
US Republican lawmakers on Wednesday blasted the July compromise between Obama administration regulators and the auto industry that would increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards to almost 55 miles per gallon by 2025, charging the move would raise costs and reduce choice for consumers.

"It appears that the administration is essentially substituting its bureaucratic judgment for the independent judgment of the marketplace," said Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on regulatory affairs, stimulus oversight and government spending. "When the government substitutes its judgment for the private market, the result is never good."

"Most likely these standards will force the auto industry to limit consumer choice and manufacture products that Americans may not want, or simply cannot afford," he added in a subcommittee hearing on the proposed CAFE standards.

In July, the administration and automakers announced a plan that would increase fuel economy for cars and light trucks for a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025, up from the current 30.2 mpg for cars and 24.4 mpg for light trucks. The administration says the move would reduce US oil use by 2.2 million b/d, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save the economy $2 trillion.

The new standards are still under regulatory review, and have not been finalized.

Democrats on the panel defended the administration.

"Frankly, I have a hard time understanding what the majority's problem is with the fuel efficiency standards, or whose interests they are representing in opposing them," said Maryland's Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the subcommittee. "The new standards are critical to ensuring that consumers are getting the most for their money."

The subcommittee heard testimony from a range of experts on automobile consumer behavior, as well as two Environmental Protection Agency officials and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration chief David Strickland.

In a tense question and answer session with the only two lawmakers who remained to question Strickland -- Jordan and New York Republican Ann Marie Buerkle -- he defended the CAFE agreement, and emphasized that the process was still open for input from consumers and small businesses.

"The deal is not done," he said.

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