Auto Dealers Rebut “Concerned” Scientists

by Marlo Lewis on November 4, 2011

in Blog, Features

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The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and seven other green groups sent the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) a letter (dated October 19) criticizing NADA’s opposition to President Obama’s plan to increase new-car fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by Model Year (MY) 2025.

The UCS letter parrots the administration’s claims about the many wonderful benefits more stringent fuel economy standards will achieve during MYs 2017-2025. In a letter dated November 2, NADA points out that the claimed benefits depend on assumptions, such as future gasoline prices and, most importantly, whether consumers will want to buy the cars auto makers are forced to produce.

The UCS letter neglects to mention that, according to the administration’s own estimates, the MY 2025 standard would add at least $3,100 to the average cost of a new vehicle. NADA also notes other likely consumer impacts:

  • Vehicles that currently cost $15,000 and less effectively regulated out of existence.
  • Weight reductions of 15%-25%, with potential adverse effects on vehicle safety in collisions.
  • 25% to 66% of the fleet required to be hybrid or electric, even though hybrids today account for only 2-3% of new vehicle sales.

The “concerned” scientists also completely ignore NADA’s critique of the legal basis of Obama’s fuel economy agenda. EPA and the California Air Resources Board are implicitly regulating fuel economy. Yet EPA has no statutory authority to prescribe fuel economy standards, and federal law expressly prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations “related to” fuel economy.

To help restore the statutory scheme Congress created, NADA supports Reps. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) and John Carter’s (R-Texas) amendment to the fiscal year 2012 EPA/Interior appropriations bill. The amendment would bar EPA from spending any money in FY 2012 to develop greenhouse gas/fuel economy standards for MY 2017 and beyond, or to consider or grant a waiver for California to develop such standards.

NADA explains:

As Congress never explicitly authorized EPA to regulate fuel economy, and explicitly preempted all states — including California — from regulating fuel economy, enactment of the Austria-Carter amendment would simply return regulation of fuel economy back to its congressional design for fiscal year 2012. Thus, the Austria-Carter amendment does not do more than give a one-year “time out” to two agencies that should not be setting fuel economy standards to begin with.

Green group claims that Austria-Carter would jeopardize important public health and welfare benefits are poppycock even if you view oil imports and global warming as the worst perils facing America and humanity. NADA explains:

The amendment would not delay the introduction or implementation of any fuel economy or auto pollution standards. Under the amendment, the fuel economy regulations for MYs 2012-2016 that were recently finalized by DOT [Department of Transportation] and EPA would remain in full force. In addition, DOT could continue without delay to propose additional fuel economy regulations under CAFE for later years. And because fuel economy rules for MY 2017 are not due until April 1, 2015 — more than three and a half years from now — a one year “time out” would not result in any loss of oil savings or greenhouse gas reductions.

More evidence — if any were needed — that UCS should change its name to “Union of Alarmist Scientists.”

Clifford T. Shea November 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Global warming is a phenominum that has been occuring over the past 10,000 years at least. It is not something that began with humans burning fossil fuels. because of it, people are able to live in millions of square miles that used to be buried under ice. The environmental movement isn’t just about psuedo-science; it is anti-human! God help all of us if it suceeds.

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