Last week, Darrell Issa, the self-made multi-millionaire who represents California’s 49th Congressional District, wanted to curtail American automakers’ design patents to allow foreign automakers to produce the parts without any oversight of quality or suitability.
This week, Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is saying the Obama Administration’s proposed fuel efficiency rules, to be released next week, are unrealistic and came out of a secret deal favoring companies receiving U.S. government bailouts.
According to a report written by Issa’s staff and released today by House Republicans, the creation of the rules was “a raw political process designed to appease environmental extremists.”
According the report, the Obama administration “openly played automakers off of each other to gain a tactical advantage over the industry,” said a report to be released today by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Republican majority staff. “Theinevitable product of this reckless process was a pair of rulemakings that reflect ideology over science and politics over process. … Americans will be forced to drive expensive, unpopular and unsafe automobiles mandated by the Obama administration.”
One of Issa’s primary complaints is the EPA’s granting of the California waiver that had been denied by the previous Administration. Issa charges that the grant was driven by politics. However, the denial by the EPA under then-President George W. Bush was considered to be purely political as it was a clear violation of existing law. Due to the fact California adopted air quality regulations before the U.S. government has meant that California is free to adopt its own standards, so long as they are more stringent than the current federal standards.
Mr. Issa’s contention the new EPA rules would place a new hardship on auto manufacturers because they would have to make various versions of their vehicles is in error: automakers have been making “49-state” vehicles alongside “California” vehicles for decades. Later changes to the law allowed other states to adopt the California standards if they wished and eleven states, including New York and Massachusetts, did elect to follow the California model. Combined with California, these states account for more than a third of all vehicle registrations in the U.S., which is hardly a niche market requiring significant changes in production.
Mr. Issa’s claim that the Obama Administration acted improperly in negotiating the new rules would require Mr. Issa to assert the clandestine energy policy meetings held by Vice President Dick Cheney in the early years of the Bush Administration were also improper. Mr. Issa, who began his first term in the House the same year that President Bush began his first term in office, has nowhere in his record made a negative comment about those meetings.
The statement that the EPA goals are unrealistic fails to take into account that there already are internal combustion and diesel engines that meet the 2025 mileage requirements. Likely improvements in battery, fuel cell and other technologies will also help automakers achieve the standards which are based on a sales-weighted average of all vehicles produced.