Republicans push for fuel economy standards that analysts say will kill jobs

Amanda Carey Contributor
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A group of prominent Republicans grabbed headlines Thursday after they sent a letter to President Obama letting him know they support “aggressive motor vehicle fuel efficiency and emission standards” that  analysts believe will destroy jobs.

The Republicans signing the letter backed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of up to 62 mpg.

The group includes 15 former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators, lawmakers and governors. What they want is a 6 percent increase annually in fuel-efficiency standards through 2025. The new standards are currently being worked out by the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and will be announced at the end of the summer.

“If oil continues to be a primary driver of our economy and security, we will hand our destiny to other nations, many of which do not share our interests,” the Republicans wrote in their letter. “Reductions in fuel consumption could not come at a more important time.”

Their endorsement, however, comes the week after The Detroit News published a masthead editorial which began by asking, “Did the Obama Administration save the auto industry with a bailout only to burden it with excessive regulations?”

The editorial points out that according to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), the new standards the Obama administration is pushing will add somewhere between $3,744 and $9,700 to the cost of each new car, and kill as many as 260,000 jobs.

In response to the letter, Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, called it a “special interest campaign to achieve a politically motivated fuel economy number that is not supported by the data.”

“In effect,” she added, “ex-officials have come to a conclusion about what the current data means before the current administration has even finished analyzing it. This is not how good policy occurs.” Moreover, she said, “It’s not surprising that a group of policymakers who supported raising fuel economy targets when they were in office would continue to do so after leaving office.

The letter’s signers include former Govs. Michael Castle of Delaware, Jim Douglas of Vermont and Christie Whitman of New Jersey. Whitman is also a former EPA administrator under the George W. Bush administration.