Letter from the Pew Environment Group to Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi Regarding Global Warming

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Dear Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi:

We would like to thank you for your continued leadership in finding meaningful and practical solutions to global warming and our nation's dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.  Your direction, tenacity and support during last year's energy debate were critical to the passage of a long-overdue increase in the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks.

As Congress considers a legislative response to the financial crisis facing the U.S. auto industry, we urge you to include measures that would guarantee the industry's retooling towards building the fuel-efficient vehicles that Americans desperately need.  We believe that a significant factor in the economic decline of domestic automakers was their investment in inefficient vehicles, which have become increasingly undesirable as the price of gasoline has grown.  Although gas prices have fallen recently due to wider sinking economic conditions, they are expected to rise again as global demand for oil grows around the world. 

At a minimum, automakers should meet the requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, to immediately begin increasing the annual fleet-wide average mileage of cars and light trucks and eventually reach 35 miles per gallon by 2020.  In fact, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analysis suggests that automakers could achieve 35 miles per gallon as soon as 2015.  Now is not the time for NHTSA to allow the automakers to delay progress toward implementing the standards required by the Act based on their financial problems.  The best way to safeguard the long-term viability of the U.S. auto industry is to ensure its smart investment in the cleanest and most efficient cars and trucks available in the market. 

Automakers should also drop lawsuits trying to block the California global warming vehicle standard, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The California standard would cut greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016, and have the effect of dramatically improving vehicle efficiency beyond federal law.  Today, seventeen states have adopted or are in the process of adopting the California standard.  These states together represent 40 percent of the U.S. auto market.  If the entire U.S. market were to meet the California standard, domestic automakers would be even better able to reclaim market dominance.

Requiring these environmental and efficiency benchmarks in any auto industry aid package will help improve the desirability of U.S. cars, strengthen domestic automakers' long-term financial sustainability, and protect American jobs.  But, perhaps more importantly, consumers will save money at the pump, there will be a reduction in our dependence on oil, and global warming pollution will be curtailed.  The American taxpayer deserves no less. 

We look forward to working with you on this important issue. Please feel free to contact me or Karen Steuer, Director of Government Operations, at (202) 887-8800.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Cuttino
Director, U.S. Global Warming Campaign
Pew Environment Group

cc:
Senator Mitch McConnell    
Representative Steny Hoyer
Representative John Boehner

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the main Pew Campaign on Global Warming page.