Rep. Issa Tries to Undermine Standards that Save Money and Bring Cleaner Air

Yesterday morning, at a House subcommittee hearing where NRDC expert Roland Hwang was testifying about how new clean car standards will save Americans money at the pump and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, Representative Darrell Issa (CA-R) said:

“The mission of NRDC is to save the Earth and to hell with the American people.”

For more than 40 years, NRDC has been working to clean up the air we breathe and the water we drink. For the past 10 months, Issa and his Tea Party allies have been working to subvert nearly every piece of public health protection law on America’s books.

The public knows all too well who is on their side and who is on the side of polluters.

House leaders like Issa are leading an attack on standards designed to reduce a host of dangerous pollutants, including mercury, which is a potent neurotoxin that poses a particular threat to fetuses and newborns; dioxin and arsenic, which are known to cause cancer; and smog, which can make breathing harder for the 24 million Americans living with asthma, 7 million of who are children.

I don’t know one parent who wants to expose their children to more mercury, arsenic, or smog. In fact, most Americans believe they are entitled to safe air and clean water, and they have no desire to backpedal on public health gains.

But in their anti-government fervor, Tea Party leaders would rather make Americans vulnerable to dangerous emissions than call on polluters to clean up their mess.

They also want to interfere in opportunities to save Americans money and make our businesses more competitive. The hearing Issa attended today is part of his larger investigation into the new clean car standards President Obama announced in July. Auto companies, labor unions, states, and environmental groups were deeply involved in drafting these standards and they support the administration’s plan.

As a result of the clean car standards, new cars and light trucks in this county will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas, by the model year 2025. Over the life of new vehicles, Americans will save $1.7 trillion in fuel costs. We will reduce our oil use by 12 billion barrels of oil and cut automobile carbon emissions by about 6 billion metric tons. And it will create up to 500,000 American jobs.

Auto companies have already put their engineers to work building cleaner, better performing cars. Ford and Toyota, for instance, just announced a partnership to bring hybrid gas-electric systems for pickups and sport utility vehicles to market faster.

So what exactly is the “problem” Issa thinks he has to investigate? Standards that will save drivers money at the pump? Standards that automakers agreed to? Standards that will provide consumers with better performing cars and trucks?

If this looks like a problem to Issa and his Tea Party allies, it’s because they are more interested in ideological battles over the role of government than in innovations that benefit American people.

NRDC recognizes that like public health standards, these new clean car standards will improve people’s lives. That is why we fight for them.