Congressman Issa, Please Step Away from the Car Deal

Last Friday, President Obama announced another historic clean car agreement, supported by car companies, the auto workers union, environmental organizations, and states, that by 2025 will double new vehicles’ miles per gallon and cut their carbon pollution nearly in half. 

Car owners will fill up half as often and save $3,000 over the life of the car.  American families will save $80 billion a year at the pump and cut our national oil addiction by 2.2 million barrels per day.  And we’ll create up to 150,000 new American jobs. 

Rare good news for the planet, according to the New York Times.  Everybody wins.

But not good enough for Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's a climate skeptic and no friend of EPA or other federal health and safety agencies.  And he's not happy. 

According to The Hill, Issa’s got “serious concerns.”  So, he’s launched an investigation and fired off letters demanding that the automakers preserve all documents pertaining to negotiations with the Obama administration.  He’s bothered by “lack of transparency.” And notwithstanding the projected economic, environmental, and national security benefits, he's worried about “the potential for vehicle cost increases on consumers and negative impact on American jobs.”  

Congressman Issa made a fortune building a car alarm company – the alarm features his own voice warning:  “Please step away from the car.”  So he may think he knows the car business better than the car makers. 

But maybe not.  Maybe he should take a lesson from Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), another anti-EPA House subcommittee chair, who acknowledged last week that the carmakers can take care of themselves:  "If these automobile manufacturers want to reach agreements with EPA, that's their business."

Update Aug. 2:  Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) -- no softie on EPA -- is also ready to let the deal go forward through the regulatory process.  He told Politico: “We've not decided to take that [Issa investigation] course ... We've had some discussions with the auto companies. They believe. They signed the letters of intent. And we'll see how it plays out."

Congressman Issa, please step away from the car deal.

About the Authors

David Doniger

Director, Climate & Clean Air program

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