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E&C Leaders Launch Investigation into Oil Companies’ Involvement in Rollback of Fuel Economy & Clean Car Standards

Jun 19, 2019
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Environment and Climate Change Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) sent letters today to Marathon Petroleum and oil industry lobbying and policy organizations requesting information and documents related to their involvement in the development of the “SAFE Vehicles Rule.” If implemented, the Trump Administration’s proposal would roll back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and tailpipe emission standards on all cars and light trucks, significantly increasing Americans’ spending at the pump – and the profits of major oil companies.

The three Committee leaders want to know whether, and to what extent, the oil lobby coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Executive Office of the President (EOP) in the development of the proposed rollback. They also seek information pertaining to the companies’ covert lobbying and social media campaign in support of the rollback.

The Trump Administration’s proposal, if finalized, would harm public health and welfare by increasing tailpipe emissions of air pollutants. The proposed rule would add more than seven billion additional tons of carbon into the atmosphere during this century, and increase U.S. petroleum consumption by 500,000 barrels per day, which may cumulatively cost Americans up to an estimated $236 billion in extra fuel costs by 2035.

“The oil industry thus stands to profit significantly from the proposed rollback,” wrote Pallone, Schakowsky and Tonko. “Therefore, the Committee is conducting oversight of the proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule and the troubling, secret lobbying and social media campaign that reportedly occurred leading up to its release.” 

Last year, EPA’s own experts panned the rollback, noting that it would lead to fewer jobs, worsening environmental conditions and a higher cost of living as consumers pay more at the gas pump. Proving the rollback’s unpopularity even among automakers, earlier this month auto manufacturers requested that the Trump Administration reconsider the proposal. In a letter to President Trump, they warned that his proposal would result in “untenable” market instability, jeopardize American leadership in manufacturing and innovation, and worsen environmental conditions.

As part of their investigation, the three Committee leaders are requesting copies of all communications related to the proposed rollback between the oil industry and any current or former EPA, NHTSA and EOP officials. The Committee requested that all information and documents be received by July 3, 2019.

The letters sent to each entity are below: