U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Holds Hearing on Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled, “Trump’s Wrong Turn on Clean Cars; The Effects of Fuel Efficiency Rollbacks on the Climate, Car Companies, and California.” Subcommittee Chairman Harley Rouda (D-CA) in his opening statement expresses his disdain with the Administration’s proposal to freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards at 2020 levels, rolling back Obama Administration policy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to revoke the State of California’s waiver that allows the state to set its own tailpipe emissions standards under the Clean Air Act of 1970. Chairman Rouda asserted that “stricter emissions standards not only reduce the main cause of global warming, but encourage automakers to develop newer, more efficient vehicles that will save Americans money at the pump and improve the health of each and every American.”

The hearing also sought to examine the fossil fuel industry’s influence over the change in regulatory decision-making process at the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During the first panel, Senator Whitehouse used his opening statement to discuss how “the fuel economy standards would have little effect on the number of cars sold, they would considerably affect the amount of gasoline sold. That 1.7 trillion dollars saved by consumers is lost oil industry revenue,” arguing that the oil industry hired groups and trade associations that lobbied on behalf of the oil industry to have these regulations rolled-back. Senator Whitehouse also scrutinized the current U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust investigation into the four automakers and the State of California agreement to adhere to California emissions standards.

During opening statements for the second panel, the first three testimonies all echoed similar sentiments regarding why the roll back of CAFE and GHG emissions standards by the Administration will negatively impact air quality and eventually the health of Americans. Dr. Wimberger stated that the three main impacts of the roll backs and revocation of California’s waiver will ensue which are, uncertainty for automakers, any meaningful impact on reducing GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and adversely impact air quality in areas of the country that do not currently meet federal health based air quality standards, putting the health of vulnerable Americans at an increased risk.

Witnesses:

Panel 1:

  • The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Former Governor of California
  • The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island

Panel 2:

  • Antonio M. Bento, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, University of Southern California
  • The Honorable Samuel Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose, California
  • Emily Wimberger, Climate Economist, Rhodium Group
  • Marlo Lewis (minority witness), Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

Written by Alexandra Moyer

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