By Ben Geman - 03/17/10 10:26 PM EDT
Her comment follows today’s letter from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers to congressional leaders that opposes Murkowski's resolution – and House companion versions – that would nullify EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. (Murkowski recently said her plan is on hold while she watches whether West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller's less aggressive effort picks up steam.)
The industry is concerned that Murkowski’s proposal would upend a deal struck last year that creates a joint, national fuel economy and auto emissions standards program run by the Transportation Department and EPA.
Her office circulated a March 5 Dow Jones account of a meeting between House Democratic leadership aides and auto industry lobbyists. In the Dow Jones account, Alliance spokesman Charles Territo says that House leadership aides “want to ensure that we remain committed to the national program.”
Murkowski says she is concerned about the economic effects of EPA regulation of emissions from stationary facilities, such as factories and power plants.
The White House, however, has emphasized that her plan would hurt automakers, because they would be subjected to a patchwork of state tailpipe emissions rules that would proceed if the unified national program is upended.
But Murkowski calls this critique flawed. She argues that EPA doesn’t need to be in the auto game at all, and notes that states only have authority to move ahead because the administration granted a Clean Air Act waiver in 2009 that allows the state actions.
“The notion that auto efficiency can only be improved with EPA’s involvement is false. As the Auto Alliance letter points out ‘As a practical matter, greenhouse gas standards are the functional equivalent of fuel economy standards, since the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by a vehicle is proportional to the amount of fuel consumed.’ Statutory authority to improve fuel economy has existed for 35 years at the Transportation Department, and it still exists today,” she said.
Bond’s office, in a response to the automakers’ letter, said “no one should be surprised that automobile manufacturers are supporting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon regulations after all the money the Obama Administration has put into the auto industry, including the Obama auto bailout, implementation of financial programs such as cash for clunkers and clean vehicle investment grants.”