The House Oversight and Reform Committee is asking oil giant Marathon Petroleum to turn over any documents tied to a new Trump administration rule that rolls back clean car standards set during the Obama era.
The March rule cuts the year-over-year improvements expected from the auto industry, slashing standards that require automakers to produce fleets that average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. Instead, the Trump rule would bring that number down to about 40 mpg by 2026, bringing mileage below what automakers have said is possible for them to achieve.
Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly called the rule a gift to oil companies – one of the only parties to benefit from worse fuel efficiency.
The rule “reflects the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry over the rulemaking process and raises serious questions about whether the Trump Administration is endangering the health and safety of the American people for the sake of higher profits for oil companies,” committee Democrats wrote in a letter to the company Thursday.
“It appears that the oil industry—and Marathon in particular—are driving forces” behind the rule, they said.
The letter asks the company to turn over a trove of documents detailing meetings with top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), which crafted the new standards, along with a long list of conservative think tanks that lobbied for the weakened fuel standards.
Marathon said they have received the letter and are reviewing it.
Gary Heminger, the former CEO of Marathon, said the Trump administration rule would help the industry sell up to 400,000 more barrels of oil per day.
“We have a lot of work to do to keep this momentum going,” Heminger said in a conference call with investors when the rule was first proposed in 2018, The New York Times reported.
The Democratic letter credits Marathon with being one of the chief lobbying forces behind the new rule, coordinating with conservative think tanks and meeting with top governments officials.
The letter also implies that a Marathon lobbyist fed text to lawmakers, who in turn submitted letters to DOT with similar language.
Other oil companies also met with officials from the two agencies, but the committee did not confirm whether they would seek similar documents from them.
The letter follows two lawsuits filed Wednesday by 23 states and 12 environmental groups challenging the new Trump administration automobile standards.
The government’s own analysis found the rule would cost some $13 billion more than they would save, while other internal documents reviewed by The Hill show both White House and EPA staff raised a number of technical and legal issues with the standards.