Obama Taking Heat over Proposed Fuel Economy Standard

The Obama administration recently proposed raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards affecting cars and light trucks sold in America to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. However, in a surprising development, the administration is now taking heat from Democratic legislators from Michigan including liberal Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is up for re-election in 2012, in addition to congressmen representing districts in which German automakers operate in the South.

Last week, 14 of Michigan’s 15 congressmen plus both its senators penned a letter calling the 56.2 miles per gallon standard “overly aggressive” and “not reasonably feasible.” (Rep. John Conyers was the lone non-signatory among the delegation). The letter further indicates that the standard would have a negative impact on jobs and promotion of U.S. manufacturing. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had previously signed a letter urging a sensible approach on CAFE.

But less reported on was a letter sent the day before by South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy and Tennessee Rep. Charles Fleischmann expressing concern about the administration’s approach. Gowdy and Fleischmann appear concerned that German automakers who manufacture vehicles in their districts–Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen–could be unfairly hammered by the rules, with attendant negative consequences for employees and their communities. Reads the letter:


As you know, our respective districts are the home of major investments from German automakers in the US. BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen employ thousands of Americans, export significant product from the US to the entire world, and represent an important and growing part of the American economy. We are concerned that the new rules could have an unfair impact on these companies, their US employees, and the extensive supplier base.

News reports today indicated the administration intends to seek a slightly reduced number. Obama is expected to announce a proposed 54.5 miles per gallon standard on Friday.

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