Obama’s DOE to spend $8M on making cars lighter

House Oversight and Investigations Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) chastised Obama last week for those same fuel economy rules, which are known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

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Issa said the White House bullied U.S. auto firms into accepting the rules when those companies were financially dependent on the federal government following a bailout.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) retorted that Issa and other Republicans are more responsive to oil and gas companies’ concerns than those of consumers. Markey sponsored a bill that passed Congress in 2007 that would have raised fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

Republicans have accused Obama of using the EPA to target fossil fuel companies. The CAFE standards were one of Obama’s earliest moves on the environment in the White House, and the EPA has followed them with other proposals that would limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Republicans have turned the EPA and Obama’s energy policies into a top campaign issue. Republicans claim Obama is pushing green jobs at the expense of cheaper forms of energy that could engender an economic recovery.

DOE says the private sector is putting up an additional $11 million for the lightweight materials research. Some of the projects supported by the initiative include improving modeling tools to make lighter and stronger steel composites and expediting advanced alloy development for car engines.

— This story was updated at 1:52 p.m.