Congress Blog

The UAW rejects the suggestion that protecting the environment is bad for the economy

Former Rep. Dan Maffei's (D-N.Y.) column, "Why Democrats Would be Wise to Compromise on CAFE Standards," took the UAW's position on CAFE standards completely out of context and frankly, got it flat out wrong. So, let me be clear, the UAW does not support gutting CAFE standards.

The UAW is committed to protecting the environment and preserving jobs. And we know that we can do this in a smart way. We reject the false claim that protecting the environment is bad for the economy. Well crafted regulations benefit both American workers and our environment.

In fact, the UAW was central to the CAFE agreement, which was carefully crafted to reduce emissions, increase efficiency, give manufacturers flexibility to meet stringency standards, and create jobs in vehicle production and advanced technology. We are proud of the role we played in reaching a consensus among a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Obama administration, state and federal regulators, the automobile industry, environmental advocates, elected officials and many others to significantly reduce greenhouse gases and raise the average fuel economy of passenger vehicles sold in the United States.

We all have a role to play in reducing the use of fossil fuels, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting our environment. The United States is now the only country in the world not part of the Paris Climate Accord that aims to fight global warming. But ignoring climate change will not eliminate the dangers it poses. We must act now to protect our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, by creating regulations that strike a balance between achieving fuel standards while not adversely impacting working families and domestic U.S. manufacturing.

Fuel efficiency is auto industry's future - plain and simple. From electric vehicles to full-sized pickups, fuel efficiency is improving across the industry, including in vehicles made by UAW members. Countries around the globe continue to promote greater efficiency and lower emissions. If we ignore these realities, we could see the U.S. auto industry fall behind, hurting the American economy and American workers. Smart, balanced regulations will ensure the U.S. auto industry does not fall behind, while also ensuring that vehicles of the future are produced here, creating good paying union jobs.

Done right, emissions and fuel efficiency standards can continue to be a win-win for the environment, American workers, U.S. manufacturing and the economy. Well constructed regulations can promote investment, establish certainty, create new jobs in vehicle production and advanced technology, and allow manufacturers the flexibility necessary to meet the standards.

This can only occur if all stakeholders work together and form a consensus. The UAW has played a central role in crafting sensible CAFE standards and we will continue to do so. The environment can win and so can American workers.

Josh Nassar is director of Legislative Affairs at the UAW International Union.

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