Industry Groups Want Consistency In Fuel Efficiency

Trade groups say EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should create a 'single national fuel economy standard as established by Congress.'

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” Industry groups are pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create consistent rules for new fuel efficiency standards being considered by Congress, a move that could conflict with aggressive requirements being pushed by California.
Automakers and their allies in Congress have pushed for the energy bill to clarify the authority of two federal agencies that regulate emissions and gas-mileage standards.
Pelosi rejected attempts by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., to include a provision that would ensure that any regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration be consistent and not create conflicts that would be difficult for the auto industry to meet.
In a letter Wednesday to Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., eight trade groups said the bill should require the EPA and NHTSA to ''work together to establish a single national fuel economy standard as established by Congress.''
''If this issue is not addressed in this legislation, it is likely to cause great confusion, complicating and delaying the work of the agencies charged with implementing this bill,'' the industry groups wrote.
The trade groups included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, which is led by former Michigan Gov. John Engler.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said her office had received the letter and was reviewing it. Dingell, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters Saturday that he planned to examine the EPA-NHTSA consistency issue in his committee.
Environmental groups have raised concerns that a combined approach would prevent California from moving forward with its strict tailpipe emissions standards, which would require automakers to build vehicles that produce 30 percent less greenhouse gases by 2016. More than a dozen other states have vowed to adopt them.
California can't enforce the tailpipe rules for cars sold in the state until it gets a waiver from the EPA exempting it from national greenhouse gas pollution standards set under the federal Clean Air Act. The state can set its own vehicle pollution standards because it started regulating air pollution before the EPA's creation.
The EPA is expected to make a decision on the waiver before the end of the year and is drafting new regulations in response to a Supreme Court ruling in April that said the agency could regulate vehicle tailpipe emissions.
NHTSA was given the enforcement authority of fuel economy standards when the law was created in 1975, so automakers have cautioned they may be forced to comply with two different standards.
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