House Committee Votes to Limit EPA, Manufacturers Back National Standards
On June 26th, a key judicial panel unanimously ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) acted correctly when it issued regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from car and truck tailpipes, power plants and other sources from 2012 through 2016.
In a 3-0 ruling the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that EPA was “unambiguously correct” in using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions which trap heat in the atmosphere and drive global climate change.
|Automakers back federal standards: More than two dozen global automakers, acting through two trade associations, filed a brief supporting the EPA rules, and related regulations calling for a sharp increase in U.S. fuel economy.Managing the complexities of auto production and sales, the companies argued, requires uniform national standards rather than a state-by-state approach. A long-term rule, stretching over a number of years, helps automakers make the long-term capital investments needed to plan for future vehicles.The legal case was filed by coal and utility companies who object to EPA’s regulations on emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants. Whatever happens to those regulations, said the automakers, the rules governing cars and trucks should stay in place.
From the legal brief filed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers:
Auto companies backing the EPA include the world’s seven largest automakers ‚Äì Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen ‚Äì as well as 19 other firms.
Congress attacks rules backed by automakers: Ironically, just two days after the Appeals Court ruling, a majority of the House Appropriations Committee bucked the industry consensus. By a 26-18 margin, the panel voted to stop EPA from setting tailpipe emissions standards for 2017 to 2025, and to cut the agency’s budget by 17 percent, or $3.2 billion. “We also prohibited funding for the implementation of numerous job-killing rules and policies,” said panel chairman, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky.
(The House passes a similar measure last year, but it never came to a vote in the U.S. Senate.)
Automakers adding jobs now ‚Äì and more to come: The notion that limiting harmful pollution somehow “kills” jobs flies in the face of what’s happening in the U.S. auto industry. Real-life job creators ‚Äì the companies that hire women and men to build vehicles ‚Äì have added 200,000 jobs since 2009, when new rules boosting fuel efficiency and limiting tailpipe emissions first went into effect.
How do higher standards for cars and trucks create new jobs? UAW President Bob King explained the process during an EPA/NHTSA hearing in Detroit in January:
- The technology needed to improve efficiency and reduce pollution represents additional content on each vehicle. That additional content must be engineered and produced by additional employees.
As increasingly rigorous vehicle standards take effect over the next decade, the U.S. could gain more than half a million new auto jobs. The projection comes from “Gearing Up: Smart Standards Create Jobs Building Cleaner Cars,” a new study by the Blue Green Alliance and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
EPA, NHTSA, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and 25 global automakers have this one right: Making cars cleaner doesn’t “kill” jobs. It creates jobs. And it creates good-paying jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector, still a key driver of the overall U.S. economy. The House of Representatives needs to get on board.
Roger Kerson is a Michigan-based media consultant for labor unions and environmental organizations. He was formerly the director of public relations at the United Auto Workers.