By on June 12, 2019

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee said it will schedule a hearing on June 20th regarding the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back automotive efficiency standards. The decision comes from Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Environment and Climate Change Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) — all of whom are in clear opposition to the suggested plan.

The groups will hold a joint hearing to discuss Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and carbon pollution regulations affecting light duty vehicles as they relate to the current administration’s plan to effectively freeze efficiency targets between 2020 to 2026. 

“Rolling back our clean car standards threatens American jobs, public health, the climate and consumers. The automobile industry doesn’t even support the Trump Administration’s proposal – no one does, except the oil companies that stand to profit from Americans spending more at the pump filling up less efficient cars,” said Pallone, Schakowsky and Tonko in the release. “We look forward to questioning both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency about this senseless proposal.”

That gives us some idea of what to expect from the hearing. While automakers previously supported the Obama-era efficiency targets, claiming they could be met, their position changed by 2016.

Within the first month of Donald Trump entering office, auto executives met with him to discuss the state of the industry and the possibility of a fuel economy rollback. The administration proved receptive to their pleas and began working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to see what could be done.

However, saying the industry “doesn’t even support” the plan is rather misleading. Worried that the deal could fracture the U.S. market, automakers would prefer to see a national solution. But the rollback is believed to save them $300 billion in regulatory fees, so it would be shocking if they didn’t have at least some interest in it coming to pass. It just might not be worth it after taking the bigger picture into account.

Blowback from environmentalists and 18 states led by California have also encouraged automakers to be extra careful with their words, lest they find themselves on “the wrong side of history.” Rather than support the rollback openly, most manufacturers encouraged California and the White House to seek compromise and settle somewhere in the middle. Meanwhile, they’re still promoting green tech, trying to prove to the public that they sincerely plan to continue working towards more environmentally friendly products.

Considering the Golden State’s heavy involvement, the California Air Resources Board’s Mary Nichols is likely to testify. California Governor Gavin Newsom may also make an appearance, as he’s made culling tailpipe emissions one of his pet projects. Heidi King, deputy administrator of the NHTSA, should also be in attendance — as well as various representatives (past and present) from the EPA, environmental groups, and the automotive industry.

The fun starts on June 20th.

[Image: Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock]

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70 Comments on “The Great Gas War: House Committee Plans Hearing On Fuel Efficiency Rollback...”


  • avatar
    Robbie

    If this gets enacted, US vehicles will become even more of a worldwide anomaly, and will get even bigger and less fuel efficient. The set of cars that can be sold in both the rest of the world and the US will become smaller.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The plans as they stand now (before any rollback) allow light trucks that have large footprint to meet lower standards. That is partially what is promoting the enormous vehicles.

      The CAFE thing is stupid anyway. The goal is to consume less fuel as a nation, not to drive the world’s most efficient light trucks. Do away with CAFE requirements and instead tax fuel (more). Let people figure out for themselves how they will consume less of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Robbie

        I agree, a tax on gas is the only sensible thing. However, sadly, neither left nor right can see this.

        I also agree that the light trucks’ lower standards make absolutely no sense.

        Also, different parts of the country probably need different taxation levels. LA’s smog may need an approach different from an empty state’s relatively clean air.

        • 0 avatar
          gomez

          Agreed. Few politicians are going to put their name on something direct like a gas tax increase. They would rather hide behind regulation to tax them indirectly by making the vehicles more expensive. That way the consumer blames the automaker instead of them.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Believe it or don’t, both left and right KNOW a higher gas tax is a better way. They also know whoever proposes it is going to lose at election time. The people in Congress may not be our best and brightest, but they know better than to volunteer for political suicide.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        There are folks who need enormous vehicles for work, most of them are working middle and lower class.

        Yes, lets tax fuel more because higher taxes are never a siphon for the pocket books of the middle and lower classes…

        Although necessary to clean up the air, high emissions standards make new vehicles (and old ones) more expensive. The last push for higher standards was too much in too little time. Manufacturing technology is not ready to support these high standards without keeping the cost low enough for the working class to handle.

        • 0 avatar
          Robbie

          I need a computer at work and I am middle class. Where’s my handout?

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            Me too. But you wont find me favoring a tax on all new computers because they are not as efficient as the old ones. Heck, i might even favor of a tax decrease (gasp) on new computers.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      Robbie,
      You hit the nail on the head.

      US vehicles are not suited for the global market. Different design and safety and large vehicles are promoted using a 25% import tariff and CAFE.

      CAFE should go and the US adopt the UNECE Vehicle Harmonisation design standards.

      Also, if the US was a business its behind the 8 ball using inefficient vehicles. Look at US energy consumption, that costs money, if the US can use less energy it will be more competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        US vehicles are not suited to the global market. Most countries other the the US are under restrictive government-mandated horsepower/displacement/size taxation rules and regulations that do not readily allow for the freer-market US vehicles. This limits those markets to small constricted econo-box vehicles for all but the wealthier folks in those populations that can afford them. The excessive taxation / restrictive rules pretty much act as an informal but very efficient sort of tariff to block US vehicles but without the politically unpopular name.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          What a superior world this would be if people could get it through their heads that what’s good for them shouldn’t be mandatory for everyone.

        • 0 avatar
          James Charles

          bullnuke,
          And if all adopted US policy and regs promoting large vehicles the US would have no auto industry.

          The US can’t compete making small cars means it can’t compete making big cars.

          The US would then adopt small car regs so it had less competition.

          The US is an expensive country for manufacture and manufacturing is no longer leading edge.

          Sort of like a billionaire. The billionaire has the skills to be a burger flipper, so why doesn’t he burger flip? The US has the ability to manufacture anything, but why compete against the burger flipping countries, Mexico and China?

          The US needs to focus on leading edge manufacturing not burger flipping.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – Larger vehicles promote themselves. You yourself admitted you would own an F-150 if you lived in the US, if not two. Please explain.

            Fullsize SUVs (and midsize SUVs that btw, get equally bad MPG) have no tariffs protecting them, but they thrive anyway. How?

            Tundra and Titan trucks have equal theoretical protection and “promotion”, but don’t do so well. Why is that?

            There’s a lot of theories floating around why one group of automakers are good in one area, and not so good in an other, but the fact remains there’s not one group that’s good at everything.

            Except there’s not another major market anywhere with so many choices, in this many classes, crazy wide engine choices, 3 cylinders to V12s.

            Hate it all you want (or whatever you’re sore about), but remember Europe went the opposite way of CAFE, pushed through decades of over taxation/abuse and look at what a disaster of a clusterfuk they ended up with!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        American vehicles are not suitable for the global market because the global standards are not suitable for American roads. I’ve driven from Boston to Los Angeles. That’s nearly the same distance as driving from London to Baghdad.

        Just driving from New York to Chicago is a longer trip than anyone in Europe would contemplate. For longer distances, places like Africa, India, Russia or China don’t have the road network to accomplish it at 70 MPH with restaurants and motels all along the way. Australia has the roads, but most of the population is on the south and east coast.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Eliminate them completely.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      TheLane,
      I agree.

      Then implement the UNECE vehicle design regs like the rest of the world uses.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – Wrong. The rest of the world isn’t UNECE.

        But here’s the problem for US vehicles in Europe and similar, including many by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc.

        US rules and regs push automakers to do the right thing, while Europe only slams the car buying public.

        So EU auto aren’t hit by either side in the US, yet US autos are hit by BOTH SIDES, trying to sell in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          James Charles

          DenvefMike,
          BAFO? Again, what is a “BAFO”. I travel to the US once or twice a year and never heard this slang word before????

          As for UNECE regs ARE not EU only and/or driven. Japan is a signatory as is around 40 to 50 other countries.

          Australia is a signatory as well. Engine size has little to do with the UNECE vehicle harmonisation regs. FE and fuel prices are set by countries and some trading blocks, hence Australia with its relatively cheap fuel can have a large number of V8s, even the 3 Star ANCAP Ford Mustang.

          Please research before making aspertions, you’ll find that your paradigms don’t match reality.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The odds of there being two BAFOs, and one magically appearing when the other was banned are like 1,000,000,000,000,000:1

            A new “user” name means nothing, if nothing else changed.

            I’m willing to bet the farm on it, and I’m a conservative “gambler”. And yes same as the original BAFO, you live in Australia, USA born, work the jet liner industry, retirement age, blah, blah, blah.

            But no one said the EU was the only UNECE market. Yes that involves numerous countries in and around the EU, Japan and others. Who cares?

            Being bigger doesn’t mean they can bully all countries to join. Except the technical differences are too tiny at this point to matter to anyone but you.

            Now EU taxes/tariffs are by design, geared to hinder import autos, even those by Japanese automakers, but especially US autos, including US market specific Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc autos.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Good. It’s nice to see some politicians with a backbone stand up to the orange moron and his corporate handlers. It’s amazing how everyone forgets how many times the US auto industry was caught with its pants around it’s ankles when they had no fuel efficient vehicles to offer when gas prices inevitably rose. As much as I hate to advocate government oversight, it seems to be the only way to keep the big three out of the cycle of maximum profit vehicles during good times leading to handouts from us during bad ones.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      It’s definitely good to see checks and balances in operation. Still, there are differing ideas of what to do, how to do it, and how much is too much. To some, CAFE seems silly in the first place, and a gas tax seems preferable.

      Can there really be a public mandate to uphold a set of rules that most of the public probably doesn’t understand?

    • 0 avatar
      Duaney

      Orange moron? What if I said ‘Black Muslim” ?? Keep name calling out of this please.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        What moral high ground are you standing on? That Orange Moron tries to make up disparaging names for women, Mexicans, war heros… the list goes on and on. Pretty pathetic you jump to his defense when he has brought his orange stain to the spot light using the vocabulary of a low-brow moron

        • 0 avatar
          Duaney

          This forum isn’t the place for your type of negative comments. You can argue against the easing of CAFE standards, but your vile name calling isn’t called for.

          • 0 avatar
            Yankee

            Is it really “vile” or just noting two facts. First, he spray tans himself orange (eyelids and scalp any time the wind blows gives it away) and has been universally noted for this. He is Orange. Second, regardless of what you think of his actions or policies, he has proven that he is incapable of intelligent thought, cannot compose a sentence without a teleprompter, makes up history he doesn’t know (which is most of it), and pathologically lies about virtually everything. I would say that fits the Websters definition of a moron. I lean conservative, which is why I can’t stand that we have someone who displays obvious mental illness setting the agenda on things that will have lasting impacts long after he is gone for both of our children. Politics aside, call a spade a spade man!

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            Just as long as you also condemn our honored and esteemed POTUS’s content practice of derisive and abusive name calling, it is all good. Otherwise your risk being perceived as a Trumpist.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Duaney – orange and/or moron used separately or together are not racial or religious slurs.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Duaney’s new in town, I guess.

        I just avoid any thread with the words “tariff,” “Trump” or “EPA”. They all generally descend into people hating on each other over simple political disagreements. And let’s not kid ourselves – the hate’s not coming from one “wing” or another. It’s coming from everyone 24/7/365. Sad.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        There’s actually a factual basis for the former and not the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      TDS

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    +1 on the gas tax, but just don’t call it a tax. Joe Public won’t know the difference.As much as I don’t like CAFE, there’s no way USDMs would’ve been spurred to develop and sell full size pickups that average close to 20mpg without it CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Europe did what you speak of, and basically the opposite of CAFE, but Europe wasn’t built up the way the US was, with the promise of cheap fuel at the heart of it.

      It’s clear to see what a clusterfuk the EU turned into, its health/cancer disaster with cars/diesels outright being banned. Nice work!

      Most Americans already stick to a tight fuel budget, either by way of reasonably tiny or efficient cars, or mostly drive larger vehicles close to home. So what would really change except what they spend on fuel?

      There’s just a few that drive (great distances) in much larger vehicles than what they have to or need to, but they get maximum attention and probably make a lot of noise doing it.

      The rich that do it, would keep right on driving what they want. But what about commercial users? What choice do they have? They’re already running as lean as they can. Many own just one vehicle that can do it all, so wouldn’t they have to own multiple?

      So it’s clear who the losers would be from a huge gas tax, and lots of money changing hands, but who’s the real winners?

  • avatar
    craiger

    Why not just let manufacturers make what they want and let us buy what we want?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Because evil people have figured out how to use the government to project their hatred for their fellow man.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      Because freedom bad!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      craiger, that’s what is happening now, and will continue to happen, in spite of mandated fuel efficiency standards.

      OK, remember when the big sedans, like the Crown Vic and Mercury Grand Marquis were phased out? So what did real world buyers actually buy to replace them? Half-ton Pickup trucks, most of them with four doors.

      If these new standards are not rolled back by Trump, what will the real world buyers choose? Bigger, heavier duty 3/4 and 1-ton pickup trucks.

      In my region, people who replaced their big sedans with LD half-ton pickup trucks with nervous-nellie hard-breathing wheezing squirrel engines are already replacing those with 3/4-ton V8 pickup trucks, many of them with Diesel engines.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      EXACTLY, CRAIGER!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Get rid of CAFE and get rid of state fuel taxes(clearly not related as this is federal level committee), CAFE only serves to line the pockets of the greedy, some of the most useless legislation to ever leave Washington. Fuel taxes haven’t been used to fix existing roads but continue to be used to build new roads that will fall into disrepair. Too many roads have to be maintained to match what taxes can handle, either use it for what’s already out there or cut the fuel tax and go back to dirt roads at the state level.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Look, the manufacturer’s all know the push for better fuel economy and low emissions. Keep the heavy hand of government out of it and let competition and the gradual development of technology do it’s job. As far as higher gas tax, that’s what Socialist European countries do and it’s a burden on lower income folks and punishes the economy, also the tourist trade. A big driver of the great American economy are the low fuel prices.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Please, my I hear your definition of “socialism”????

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      Duaney,
      Socialist? You really are clueless. How is taxation socialist? So America is socialist. It has taxes and lots of beautiful tariffs, most socialist od all!

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      Duaney,
      Socialist? You really are clueless. How is taxation socialist? So America is socialist. It has taxes and lots of beautiful tariffs, most socialist od all!

      • 0 avatar
        Duaney

        All countries must have some taxes to operate. But in Europe, for example, their gasoline costs $7-9 per gallon, most of that price a tax to fund their health care and what I call socialist programs. When the government radically taxes citizens to implement their ideology, yes, that is a form of socialism.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    Getting rid of CAFE makes perfect sense …..if your end goal is to expedite the market share erosion of the Detroit 3.
    Note that the Detroit 3 isnt in favor of relaxing CAFE. ( they are well aware that oil prices dont always stay low)

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    I say while were at it we get rid of the FAA, look at the money it would save !

    The airline manufacturers can figure out safety on their own! /s

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Should GM have been bailed out in the Obama years?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Should GM have been bailed out in the Obama years?”

        HELL, NO!!!!

        But it is a done deal, and it won’t be the last, no matter who runs the Hill or resides in the White House.

        Precedent set.

        • 0 avatar
          Duaney

          Gm was at fault for their financial collapse, but at the same time the financial debacle the country went into was precipitated by actions of our government. I believe that GM should have been rescued. It also goes into preserving our economy and country, if we had no auto manufacturing we’d be in dire straits.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The conditions were set by the govt. (the continual de-regulation of the financial sector led by Phil Gramm), but it was Wall St., the big banks/mortgage lenders and hedge funds which actually went ahead and propagated what turned out to be the world’s largest (and legal) Ponzi scheme.

            And while GM certainly had it’s faults, nonetheless they weren’t to be blamed for the Great Recession (which tanked the auto market) or for the fact that the credit markets had frozen (which just left the “banker of last resort” – the govt).

            Also, it wasn’t entirely their fault that activist shareholders forced GM to do a couple of share buy-backs previously which had depleted GM’s cash reserves of billions.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      It does help to have an FAA that is staffed with people who actually want to do the department’s mission rather than accommodate those who are encumbered by that mission. The FAA/Boeing collaboration in the 737max debacle is just one example of a federal agency that is turned upside down by the incompetence, ignorance, and ideology (I’d add corruption) of the current GOP and our (favorite, he said so) President.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “I say while were at it we get rid of the FAA, look at the money it would save !

      The airline manufacturers can figure out safety on their own! /s”

      Right now we have the worst possible outcome of a taxpayer-funded FAA that was remade under the fascist Obama regime to protect nothing but its own jobs. Government is only the answer for people who can’t figure out that government isn’t the answer.

  • avatar
    DearS

    A good middle ground is to slow CAFE down some and give incentives for fuel efficiency gains by manufactures, and increase the gas guzzler tax for any leggards ie. V10 Viper powered trucks and Raptors. Increase gas tax a little and add some low priced tolls for roads in need of constant repair. Also cut down on Gov. fraud and over paying for roads etc.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    I love these types of articles. They really highlight how little value some place about their country (USA).

    What about the environment? What about the finite resources on the planet? What about money required to offer the services we all expect from government.

    What about the condition we leave the world in for our kids?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Blowback from environmentalists and 18 states led by California have also encouraged automakers to be extra careful with their words, lest they find themselves on “the wrong side of history.” ”

    Christ on a bike, state governments issuing veiled threats to industry?

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Maybe I’m with the crazy Democrats after all: abolish all border controls so that people can bring in whatever the hell vehicles they want, tax free, into the USA!! Then CAFE standards etc. won’t mean a thing since only suckers will buy that restricted, overpriced, unreliable garbage.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    James Charles–I doubt most people think about the future, it is what they can get today.


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