Friday, April 18, 2008

Clean Air Watch to car companies: stop fibbing, start making cleaner cars

It’s a lovely Friday in our nation’s capital, but it’s being marred by the emissions of a new lobbying blitz by car companies and car dealers. They held a press briefing today. The target here is any attempt to reinstate the right of California and other states to set greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

There they go again! The same companies that literally fought for decades against better fuel economy standards now claim new standards enacted by Congress are just peachy.

They are being extremely disingenuous. They are spending on lawyers and lobbying instead of better engineering. And, if they have their way, consumers will suffer. (Note, by the way, that in Canada, the car companies are calling on the government to raise gasoline prices! Keep that in mind when you hear them whine that all they care about is the consumer!)

The car lobby got to the Bush administration (you will recall the administration’s decision to reject the California standards amid a hail of lies, despite the legal and technical advice of EPA’s professionals). But now they are trying to seal the deal with Congress.

A couple of quick thoughts:

The car companies and car dealers continue repeating several big lies:

--One, they claim that the California greenhouse gas standards are “fuel efficiency” standards. That is literally not true, as you will recall if you’ve read the Supreme Court case or the federal decisions in Vermont and California which rejected this bogus argument. The California standards are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A side effect would be to improve fuel economy.

--A second big lie: that state adoption of the California standards would create a “patchwork” of state standards. That’s completely false. Under the Clean Air Act, states can adopt California car emission standards, or stick with federal standards. There are only two choices. There isn’t a third.

Would adoption of the California standards bump up compliance costs for car makers? Yes, a little. And it might lead to some pass-through added costs for new cars. Note the testimony this month in Minnesota (another battleground, where car makers are trying to block that state from adopting the California standard) in which the California Air Resources Board testified that the Cal standards would add about $1,000 to vehicle price – but that it would be offset in three years by the savings consumers would get for better gas mileage.

Why are the car companies so afraid of making cars that would save consumers money in the long run?

We wish they would spend less on lawyers, lobbying and propaganda -- and more on making cleaner cars.

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