Issa launches investigation into Obama's new fuel economy standards

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) launched an investigation Friday into a series of closed-door meetings between Obama administration officials and major automakers that resulted in beefed-up vehicle fuel economy standards.

Issa sent out letters to executives of the country’s major automakers Friday alerting them to the investigation and requesting that they keep all documents related to meetings with administration officials on the standards.

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In the letters, which were obtained by The Hill, Issa says the administration’s efforts to negotiate the fuel economy standards “raise serious concerns.” The new rules, which were announced Friday by President Obama, will also limit consumer choice, Issa says.

“I am concerned about the agreements lack of transparency, the failure to conduct an open rulemaking process, as well as the potential for vehicle cost increases on consumers, and negative impact on American jobs,” the letters say.

Obama outlined a plan earlier Friday to ratchet up fuel efficiency and cut harmful carbon pollution for model year 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks. The plan sets a fleet-wide average standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The plan, Obama said, is “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The administration worked closely with U.S. automakers on the standard, even lowering an initial proposal after the industry raised objections. In the end, 13 automakers — including GM, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler — endorsed the standards.

Republicans raised similar concerns after the administration in 2009 unveiled fuel economy standards for model year 2012-2016 cars and light-duty trucks. The GOP blasted former White House climate czar Carol Browner for conducting closed-door meetings with automakers on the standards.

The White House heralded the agreement as historic Friday and Democrats and clean energy groups praised the standards (though some raised concerns about specific provisions in the agreement that they said could weaken the rules).

You can read more about the agreement here.