By on October 20, 2011

The Detroit News reports that 66 US Representatives wrote to the House Appropriations Committee today to urge a measure blocking the EPA from regulating fuel economy in the 2017-2025 period. The letter, signed by 64 Republicans and three Democrats requests

A one-year ‘time out’ is necessary as EPA and (California) are setting national fuel economy standards without explicit authorization by Congress, under laws not designed to regulate fuel economy

According to the DetN, “the proposal would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration go forward with setting fuel economy requirements, but under the law it could only set new requirements through 2021.” And unlike past battles over CAFE, opposition this time around does not appear to be coming from the OEMs, but from NADA, the new car dealer lobby group. The only OEM to not sign onto proposed 2017-2025 standards is Volkswagen, which is reportedly in talks with regulators over the proposal.

Meanwhile, environmental groups lashed back at NADA, with a number of groups sending a letter to the lobbying group arguing that

These standards are supported by major automakers, the United Auto Workers, California and other clean car states, and numerous consumer, environmental, business and national security organizations. By continuing to oppose these standards, NADA is trying to sell Congress, dealers and the American people a lemon

The response from dealers?

Dealers face the customer every day and fully understand what will happen if vehicle prices rise $3,000 to $10,000. None of the organizations that sent this letter, DOT (Department of Transportation) or EPA, fully understand the cost of these fuel economy increases and the impact that it will have on auto sales.

The revived debate comes just days after Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl argued that proposed regulations failed to take consumer preference into account. With Rep Darryl Issa attacking CAFE and GHG regulation on all fronts, and with plenty to criticize in the proposed standards, expect this debate to rage on.

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38 Comments on “66 House Reps Move To Block 2017-2025 CAFE Proposal...”

  • avatar

    What we should do is temporarily suspend ALL EPA regulations, yes, even the DDT ban.. for only a couple years, suspend all requirements for reports and open season on building permits, with permanent legal immunity afterwards for those companies.. the resulting explosion in economic activity would boost the whole world.. and lets face it, the US is pretty clean at this point, very little damage can be done in 2 years until the EPA is back in business again.. we can try other things such as temporarily deregulating drugs and so on, but I would be happy with just trying the EPA for now.

    Perhaps a lot of it could be done by Executive Order?

    • 0 avatar

      This is a joke, right? Every EPA regulation?

      Much of what the EPA does is actually very conservative. The EPA protects property rights. It prevents others from destroying the air above your house and the groundwater beneath it. Protecting property rights is a basic government fuction.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        We have these things called States.

      • 0 avatar

        What if we stopped pretending that it took a government anything to make our cars better. You know, we did see some progress for some sixty years before the Feds stepped in to save us, right?

        Or, do you think we were still driving around in horseless carriages during the Nixon administration?

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno, Herm. A world without strict government regulation could be stressful to some folks. Like taking away their oxygen.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you actually believe this? That the only thing standing between us and economic nirvana is the EPA? What possible basis do you have for thinking that suspending EPA regulations would stimulate the economy at all? The reason the economy is slow is because of a lack of _demand_, and until consumer demand picks up, no amount of ideologically-driven gutting of the environment will do anything to kickstart it. This is why the economy was booming five years ago even though EPA regulations were very close to what they are now: demand has plummeted, the EPA has pretty much stayed where it is, and the economy tanked.

      We have third-party peer-reviewed studies showing that just one EPA clean air regulation (on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants) would save between 13,000 and 34,000 lives per year. Isn’t scientifically-established loss of life more valuable than pure faith that jobs will magically be created by suspending life-saving regulations that haven’t hurt the economy in the past?

      • 0 avatar

        Once upon a time, our world was pure and virginal.
        Then man appeared and his evil spread throughout the land.

        All the environmentalists are asking is what the Massachusetts Puritans were asking in the 1600s – we must return to the Garden of Eden so that we can find ourselves again!

        It’s just that the environmentalists put government where the Puritans put God, that’s all – same goals!

        Have you seen Al Gore’s pilgrim hat? He left it at the congressional hearing on CAFE.

  • avatar

    beyond the environmental damage that would cause, there are some serious problems with that.

    automotive product development cycles are much longer than 2 years, particularly in powertrain designs.

    a two year exemption from CAFE will not mean anything, as automakers would have to deal with the regulatory uncertainty of what would happen after the two year exemption ends. if anything, they just would not invest in new engines.

    most of the product these days is global, and automakers are moving to using the same engines globally. european fuel economy rules are getting stricter, so any global engine design could not be changed.

    • 0 avatar

      Its temporary, how much damage can they do in a couple of years?, the publicity would be bad for anyone that started pumping out toxins without regards.. and it would boost us out of this recession with economic activity, the only way it can be done.

      The biggest advantages would not come from relaxing car regulations.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno.
      That AMC Pacer was really forward looking in anticipating the new federal regulations. It was so advanced for it’s time it still would be out of place if made today.

  • avatar

    Just kill CAFE completely and tax the heck out of road fuel, like they do in Europe, which would also help address the problem of the millions of low-MPG vehicles that are already on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      You had me up until “tax the heck out of road fuel”.

      Think this through. You might think it’s a great idea to use taxation to punish people for driving the “wrong” car, but somebody else might think it’s a great idea to punish people who have your hair colour. All you’re both accomplishing is to impose your world views on others, and make politicians rich.

      No. As an income/sales/property tax payer I have done my share to build and maintain the roads. I also pay for my own fuel. Whether I choose to drive a 40 mpg vehicle or a 4 mpg vehicle is nobody’s business but mine.

      Kill CAFE, and reduces taxes to the minimum required to sustain essential public services.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if CAFE is really the answer either, but SOME form or regulation in FORCING people into smaller cars needs to happen. That is, until gas prices go up enough that people are choosing smaller cars on their own.

    That and a gas tax raise is crucial to off set the wear and tear on our aging automotive infrastructure.

    But this business of forcing super increases in automotive fleet mileage can raise car prices up to the point that people can’t afford to buy new and then what happens? As it is right now, the cheapest car here in the US is around $14K and go up from there.

    • 0 avatar

      SOME form or regulation in FORCING people into smaller cars needs to happen.


      • 0 avatar

        What if we just made our public roads only six feet wide? That would force people into smaller cars, wouldn’t it? And what if overpass clearances couldn’t be over five feet high?

        I think perhaps we’ve been going at it all wrong…

  • avatar

    @ciddyguy Okay I drive my two cars, a v6 Mustang and a V6 Impala a total of maybe 10,000 miles a year. Tell me why I should be “forced” into a small car?

    • 0 avatar


      I didn’t say small car, but smaller car, a difference.

      Since you drive what I would presume is a more recent Mustang V6 and an Impala V6, meaning both bought within the past decade at most, that means both cars are fine.

      It’s those who insist on driving cars that aren’t frugal in the mileage department, which means any car with big V8’s and large SUV/CUV and large trucks – many with V8’s that can’t muster much beyond the low 20’s, if that high on the highway unless they can/want to pay a surcharge (a tax say) for doing so. This will get companies like Ford to resize their trucks downward to something more akin to what they were 10-15 years ago and be lighter and use much more fuel efficient engines that can produce the power/torque needed to pull heavy loads when called upon.

      But in the end, it’ll get our society to downsize to where more are driving at smaller cars than they are now.

      • 0 avatar

        @ciddyguy…..Yeah I hear ya. I can’t believe how huge trucks have got. That being said here in Southern Ontario gas is 1.25 a ltre, that translates to over 5.00 a US gallon. Still, everyday I’m shocked by the number of gas pigs I see being used as daily drivers.

      • 0 avatar


        And just so you know, my avatar is my current ride, a nearly 20 YO Ranger with the pushrod Cologne 4.0L V6. It was not what I’d have chosen back in 2006 when it was offered to me by good family friends when it became clear that my worn out 88 Honda Accord needed to be replaced and I was in no way able to do such.

        I plan on going back to either an A or B segment small hatch with a manual tranny soon and I live in the states but not in the rust belt thankfully.

      • 0 avatar

        Small.. smaller… what’s the difference?

        You still haven’t explained why we need to “force” anybody to drive any particular sort of car.

      • 0 avatar

        If people have to purchase more gas to operate those larger, low-mileage vehicles, aren’t they already paying more in (fuel, and perhaps property) taxes than someone else driving something smaller?

      • 0 avatar

        Some people need large trucks and SUVs, high fuel taxes allows them to pay for the damage that they do and discourages waste of expensive foreign fuels. CAFE rules are just a very convoluted way to increase one time purchase taxes on these vehicles, since the pain is quickly forgotten it does not discourage waste.. higher fuel taxes would be ongoing since they will need fuel for the rest of their lives.

        Right now is not the best time for increasing any tax, so postpone it until things get better.

      • 0 avatar

        Not interested in tax penalties for piggish vehicles. Am interested in getting rid of economic incentives (in the US, Section 179) for high GVW vehicles that lead to clean fingernail business owners having super duty trucks and SUVs. And while we’re at, no incentives for EVs and the like either. And while we’re at it, no sweetheart deals for inefficient EVs built in Finland = Fisker.
        You want to level the playing field, then level it.

  • avatar

    Without a doubt, CAFE is an ass-hatted joke economically. That said, this proposal is dead until after next year’s election (at the earliest).

    Even IF we get a GOP president and congress, little may change. The eviro bleaters may gin up remaining Dems to keep CAFE or the GOP will realize that there’s more campaign contributions in minimal change every couple of years.

    No matter how cynical I get, I just can’t keep up.

    • 0 avatar

      The wildcard in all this is how long it will take voters to recognize Big Government as the cause of their financial pain rather than the solution, and call for the dismantling of CAFE and other esoteric social-engineering projects.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    The late Stephen Jay Gould came up with the concept of “punctuated equilibria” to describe how evolution functions. Organisms stay the same until they are put under stress, at which point speciation events occur. That is how the new CAFE standards will operate. Note that the “stress” provided by WW II created rapid, dramatic changes in design and capability of numerous objects.

    Congress has been largely inactive on CAFE for nearly three decades. It’s obvious Congress is not able to deal with the critical issues of the 21st century. Manufacturers have not been opposing the administration’s new CAFE standards because they have come to the realization that they need this form of “stress” to make quantum changes under a level playing field.

    Manufacturers know that without CAFE, there will be a reluctance to make the changes that much higher fuel prices in the future will demand. Europe, with its system of punitive fuel taxes, will be making the changes, putting American manufacturers at a great disadvantage when crunch time comes. As a retired farmer, I know that crunch time always comes and that the farmer who isn’t prepared for it will be out of business very quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      Manufacturers know that without CAFE, there will be a reluctance to make the changes that much higher fuel prices in the future will demand.

      And this is a problem because….?

      When high fuel prices demand efficiency, we will have efficiency. Necessity is the mother of invention; not government.

      • 0 avatar
        fred schumacher

        Yes, necessity is the mother of invention; however, automotive product development requires lead time. We saw what happened during the oil shocks of the 70s and 80s, when Detroit rushed into production designs that were not ready and were inferior products to what foreign manufacturers had developed. The most recent oil shock nearly destroyed America’s domestic manufacturers. (Ford didn’t need a bailout only because it had lined up loans and put its entire infrastructure into hock prior to the financial crash.)

        Manufacturers are not rooting for the new CAFE standards, but they’re also not fighting them. It is like Sherlock Holmes’ “the dog that didn’t bark.” The administration and manufacturers have come to an understanding of what the future requires. Congress hasn’t. Perhaps the question of what we do with a political institution devised for the exigencies of the 18th century can be adapted to the 21st is apropos but that question needs to be set aside for a different venue.

      • 0 avatar

        Efficiency is not the goal. See Jevon’s Paradox.

    • 0 avatar

      After meeting God, Gould has revised his thinking slightly, or as he would have said, he had a “speciation event” after his evolution as a living being.

    • 0 avatar

      however, automotive product development requires lead time.

      We agree 100% on this. But since when is it the government’s responsibility to ensure that GM and Ford plan for their own future? That’s up to GM and Ford. If they don’t do it somebody else will, and the circle of life will go on.

      Human ingenuity might wait awhile to solve problems, but in the long run it still trumps government control. A quick spin around the block in a Lada should convince anyone of this.

      • 0 avatar
        fred schumacher

        Re: “a quick spin around the block in a Lada…”

        It depends where that block is. If it’s in Siberia, then I would choose the Lada, which is a vehicle designed for that climate and quality of its road system. You can’t get a tougher truck than a 6×6 Uralaz, which is a product of the Soviet system, or, for that matter, the T34 tank, which was better than anything designed by the West.

        The purpose of government is to provide for the greater good. The purpose of Ford and GM is to provide for the greater good of their shareholders. The two goods are not synonymous. Government absolutely has a role in protecting the health and well being of its citizens and planning ahead for the future.

        The fact that Ford and GM and Chrysler are not fighting CAFE this time, when they have in the past, is that they’ve recently had a near death experience and recognize they need help. That 66 members of Congress don’t recognize this is an indication of the dysfunction of Congress, not of the proposed CAFE rule.

    • 0 avatar

      If you lived in Siberia during the days of Big Government, wasn’t Lada your only choice? I do know for certain that here in Canada, those who bought one were rewarded with a crude, unreliable junk-bucket that depreciated to zero within five years.

      As for the mandate of government to provide central planning and social/corporate welfare, this is a relatively modern invention by idealogues of various political stripes. It was never part of the deal when the first governments were organized, and to this day is considered undesirable by millions of people.

  • avatar

    The US National Security apparatus well understands that we’re living on borrowed time regarding oil. The age of consumer “freedom” is over and actually has been for some time. Get used to it — reaquaint yourselves with walking.

  • avatar

    Ciddyguy why am I not surprised that you drive a POS Ranger, a charitable donation from a family member, after your POS Honda died, and you could not afford to replace it with money you earned yourself?

    Anyone who can support themselves, and has the personal and financial wherewithal to drive any vehicle they choose, rightfully chafes at the idea of government regulation over that choice.

    Where do you, especially given your user, rather than producer lifestyle, get off telling anyone, that the Goverment should have the right to force us into smaller vehicles? Maybe given your lack of ability to drive anything short of a charitable donation from your family, the government should force you to use only public transportation.

    Lenin had a phrase for people that could be convinced that government could solve their problems, “usefull idiots”.

  • avatar

    A few questions to Don1967, Herm, and some others who want EPA/CAFE and other regulations removed for the sake of the country.

    Why do you not want to reduce how much oil americans use?
    Do you not understand WHERE most oil comes from?
    Do you not remember where Bin Laden, Gaddafi, Saddam etc come from?

    Why do you not want to reduce the size/weight of cars on the road?
    Do you not realize that most of the Steel we use to make cars is from China, do you not understand that the tons of PLASTICs we use are made from petroleum?

    Why is it a good idea in any way for Americans to keep funding terrorist who HATE america by buying more oil from them?

    Why does it make any sense to keep putting pressure on limited resources that even the US armed forces see as our single biggest weakness?

    Who do you think lobbies the most against cafe? American car companies or the governments of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc?

    What do you think happens to all the money that is spent in the US on oil?
    do you think it stays in American bank accounts?

    Do you realize the name of one of the RICHEST Saudi oil families is Bin Laden?
    Do you realize that without EPA regulations, you could not go fishing in the gulf of mexico or drink tap water in texas, Pennsylvania, west virginia, Kentucky, etc, or drink Milk from California or Wisconsin?

    I LOVE cars, I love going fast, I love muscle cars, When I see a 1969 camero my knees go weak.
    I have owned a gaggle of old oil (1964 ford fairlane, 1971 Benz 300D, etc) and I would be mad if I was forced by anyone to buy a camry or an malibu, or a taurus, or an escalade.
    But I wouldn’t be mad if the industry was forced even more then it is now to reduce its out of control spending, in areas that do not benefit America in ANY way.
    Each large SUV and Gas guzzler sold in america only benefit China and Oil producing nations.
    we only get the dregs of that market.

    Because of all of this, I am more excited about the creative power of human engineering and the ingenuity that goes into making every engine, every transmission, every body design.

    And I believe engineers will love to take the challenge of building smoother, faster, better, AND more efficient designs.

    ONLY one group of people will not want this, and its all the middlemen who don’t want to reduce their cuts.
    Which is why it makes total sense that the car dealers lobby, the lobby representing the LEAST trusted american ‘middlemen’, are fighting against this regulation. (even bellow lawyers).

    This is why comments such as yours mystify me because they are SO un-American.
    Why would you want to live in a country that depends on its existence on the products of its enemies?

    Why would you want to live in a country where you can’t fish in rivers that have been polluted by the PCBs of unregulated manufacturing, where schools are built without concern for toxic waste dumps underneath them, and with school buildings built without codes, to prevent the collapse on all the children in them.
    That is what China is like today, and everyday you hear incredible stories of rivers catching fire, or clouds of toxic gas killing everyone in villages downwind from a chemical factory.

    Is this what we want the US to return too?
    A place where short term profit making can REALLY take over and reduce the country to a giant unregulated playground?

    We already went trough this period, its now time to create and work with the rules to make better products, better technology and reduce our payments to the funders of terrorist, whose sole aim is to destroy the american dream!

    If you really want to be american, buy a car that uses no foreign oil, does not use tons of Steel from China, and does not destroy the land we love.

    I dont care if you don’t believe in global warming or that god will save you, even in the bible the people escape servitude and fight against the injustice of being subjugated by tyrants.
    OIL= funding for our enemies! get this in your heads people!

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