EPA Block Bad for Auto Industry, Says DOT

| Thu Feb. 25, 2010 3:27 PM PST

Efforts underway to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions would "profoundly" harm the already-ailing auto industry, warned the Department of Transportation in a letter.

A measure from Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to block the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health puts in peril a deal on automobile emissions made between state governments, the Obama administration, and the auto industry, both the DOT and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson warned this week. The EPA, DOT, and the White House last year worked out a deal to unify the higher state auto standards, first adopted by California, and the federal standard into one program that takes into account both miles per gallon of gasoline and the amount of emissions from a vehicle.

The deal was significant, as the auto industry had been a major opponent of the tougher state rules. The Auto Alliance and others in the industry have been supportive of the endangerment, as it would eventually subject other companies to rules it is already preparing to follow.

A federal plan is better than “the pre-existing patchwork of standards that would have required companies to build separate fleet for different states,” wrote O. Kevin Vincent, chief counsel at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a letter to the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) provided to Mother Jones. The EPA is expected to announce the first rules for vehicles by the end of next month for model year 2012 vehicles, but that announcement is rooted in the finding that Murkowski’s effort intends to block.

Murkowski maintains that her effort is a response to fears that EPA rules will be economically catastrophic. But DOT's argument is that her block will be problematic for at least one major industry, too.

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