Journalism in the Public Interest


Auto Makers and Oil Industry Trade Groups Write Back With Regulations to Target

Last week, we noted that Rep. Darrell Issa, the new chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had written to more than 150 businesses, trade groups and think tanks, asking them which regulations burdened them and were killing jobs. He’s promised to make the groups’ responses public.

Two trade groups, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, have now written back to Issa not only to point out existing regulations, but also to raise concerns about rules that aren’t yet in place, according to two letters today posted by Politico.

The main trade group for auto makers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told Issa that fuel economy standards are “by far the most expensive regulation automakers face,” [PDF] noting that a rule by the Obama administration to have all new cars get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 is estimated to cost $50 billion. Its greatest concern, however, was a forthcoming set of standards that would require even higher fuel efficiency by 2025.

API, the oil and gas industry’s trade group, pointed to nine different existing and anticipated restrictions, including concerns about the new regulatory environment for offshore drilling, the length of environmental review and the use of environmental laws and “climate change arguments” to limit the territory open to leasing and drilling for oil and gas. Some of these regulations, it noted, were not yet in place. From the letter:

Emerging potential of use of climate change arguments to limit acreage offered for lease. This issue has yet to take the shape of specific regulations, but the action by the Council on Environmental Quality to affirm inclusion of climate change analysis in the NEPA process points the way toward this possibility.

The oil industry’s response draws sharp contrasts with the recommendations of the presidential commission that studied the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and issued a full report this week. In that report, the panel called for tougher regulation of the oil industry and warned that another spill could occur again if such reforms are not enacted.

Mr. Issa has asked, and now he has received.  The question now becomes; what does he do with the information received?  Will it be properly and objectively dissected to better balance regulation with job creation and consumer protection?  Or is he throwing the dog a bone to garner further support for him and his party?  Time will tell.

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