As early as today, the House will vote on their version of the Energy Bill (the official number is H.R. 3220). This bill still has two very large items missing – a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that would increase the amount of power coming from cleaner, renewable sources (something that should be of import to everyone who would like to see the commercialization of plugin hybrids), and any mention of fuel economy (of import to anyone who cares about, well, cars).
As I mentioned in our latest Driving Change Network newsletter, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-MI) continues to be a key fly in the fuel economy ointment, refusing to allow the committee to put strong standards into the bill and attempting to delay any action by the House until autumn. But if Congressman Dingell wants to help out his buddies in the auto industry, his best bet would be to stop listening to them.
There has been a veritable avalanche of data over the past few weeks that absolutely demolishes the key automaker arguments:
- 35 mile per gallon (mpg) fuel economy standards will cost American jobs? Sorry, the reverse happens to be true. Our recently updated report shows that 241,000 jobs would be created in the United States through stronger standards, with a net creation of over 20,000 new jobs in the auto industry alone.
- 35 mpg fuel economy standards will bankrupt the Big 3 automakers? Oops, they actually work to the Big 3’s financial advantage. Dr. Walter McManus, economist and former employee of JD Powers and General Motors produced this recent evaluation showing that under a standard of 35 mpg, General Motors, Ford Motor Corporation, and Chrysler Corp. stand to make $14.4 billion by 2017—at least $6 billion more than the competition.
- 35 mpg fuel economy standards are not supported by the constituents in many areas of the country? Uh, can you say almost 90 percent public support, with 84 percent support in Congressman Dingell’s own district? A poll commissioned by the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency showed that public support for increased fuel efficiency standards in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida hovered between 88 and 90 percent, and a specific poll in Dingell’s district was still a whopping 84 percent. Can you say consensus?
- Supporters of the auto industry are offering compromises? No, a cop-out is not a compromise. Feeble proposals from Representatives Baron Hill (D-IN), Lee Terry (R-NE), Joe Barton (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Dennis Hastert (R-IL) will do very little. If you look at the bottom chart of this UCS fact sheet comparing the different plans, you can see that the oil and climate savings would be negligible compared to the 35 mpg plan.
The time has come for the House to put corporate interests aside and vote for what we need. If you agree, go tell your representative.
Posted by: ScottN