Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sen. Feinstein eats crow, seeks to fix earlier goof she made in Levin deal; confirms that energy bill permits EPA, California to limit ghgs

Feinstein obviously felt she needed to cover herself after the earlier agreement, which California officials feared could have given ammo to the car companies.

(On Capitol Hill, wags are referring to Feinstein’s earlier colloquy with Levin as an “unsupervised Senator moment.”)

This version makes it clear that the landmark energy bill would not limit efforts by the EPA or California to reduce greenhouse gases from motor vehicles.
From: Gerber, Scott (Feinstein) [] Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2007 6:00 PMSubject: Feinstein-Inouye Colloquy
This was inserted into the record this afternoon by Senators Feinstein and Inouye. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks, Scott

Colloquy Between Senator Inouye and Senator Feinstein on HR 6

Inouye: Mr. President, I have worked for many months with the Senior Senator from California and the original sponsor of this legislation, Mrs. Feinstein, to draft a sound policy to increase fuel economy standards in our country. I stated earlier today that “all federal regulations in this area be consistent.” I wholly agree with that notion, in that these agencies have two different missions.

The Department of Transportation has the responsibility for regulating fuel economy, and should enforce the Ten-in Ten Fuel Economy Act fully and vigorously to save oil in the automobile fleet. The Environmental Protection Agency has the responsibility to protect public health. These two missions can and should co-exist without one undermining the other.

There are numerous examples in the Executive Branch where two or more agencies share responsibility over a particular issue. The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission both oversee telemarketing practices and the Do-Not-Call list. The FTC also shares jurisdiction over antitrust enforcement with the Department of Justice.

Under the current CAFE system, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency work together. DOT enforces the CAFE standards, and the EPA tests vehicles for compliance and fuel economy labels on cars. The President himself foresaw these agencies working together and issued an Executive Order on May 14, 2007 to coordinate the agencies on reducing automotive greenhouse gas emissions.

The DOT and the EPA have separate missions that should be executed fully and responsibly. I believe it is important that we ensure that the agencies are properly managed by the Executive Branch, as has been done with several agencies with shared jurisdiction for decades. I plan on holding hearings next session to examine this issue fully.

Feinstein: I would like to thank the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, and I would like to clarify what I believe to be the intent of the legislation I sponsored to increase fuel economy standards in the United States.

The legislation increasing the fuel economy standards of vehicles by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years does not impact the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of the EPA, California, or other states, under the Clean Air Act.

The intent was to give NHTSA the ability to regulate fuel efficiency standards of vehicles, and increase the fleetwide average to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

There was no intent in any way, shape, or form to negatively affect, or otherwise restrain, California or any other State’s existing or future tailpipe emissions laws, or any future EPA authority on tailpipe emissions.

The two issues are separate and distinct.

As the Supreme Court correctly observed in Massachusetts v. EPA, the fact "that DOT sets mileage standards in no way licenses EPA to shirk its environmental responsibilities. EPA has been charged with protecting the public’s health and welfare, a statutory obligation wholly independent of DOT’s mandate to promote energy efficiency. The two obligations may overlap, but there is no reason to think the two agencies cannot both administer their obligations and yet avoid inconsistency.”

I agree with the Supreme Court’s view of consistency. There is no reason to think the two agencies cannot both administer their obligations and yet avoid inconsistency.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep v. Goldstone has reiterated this point in finding that if approved by EPA, California’s standards are not preempted by the Energy Policy Conservation Act.

Title I of the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007, H.R. 6, provides clear direction to the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, to raise fuel economy standards.

By taking this action, Congress is continuing DOT’s existing authority to set vehicle fuel economy standards. Importantly, the separate authority and responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act is in no manner affected by this legislation as plainly provided for in Section 3 of the bill addressing the relationship of H.R. 6 to other laws.

I fought for Section 3. I have resisted all efforts to add legislative language requiring "harmonization" of these EPA and NHTSA standards. This language could have required that EPA standards adopted under section 202 of the Clean Air Act reduce only the air pollution emissions that would already result from NHTSA fuel economy standards, effectively making the NHTSA fuel economy standards a national ceiling for the reduction of pollution. Our legislation does not establish a NHTSA ceiling. It does not mention the Clean Air Act, so we certainly do not intend to strip EPA of its wholly separate mandate to protect the public health and welfare from air pollution.

To be clear, federal standards can avoid inconsistency according to the Supreme Court, while still fulfilling their separate mandates.

____________________________Scott GerberDirector of CommunicationsOffice of Senator Dianne Feinsteinscott_gerber@feinstein.senate.gov202-224-9629

1 comment:


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