The nation's leading trade associations united today to praise Reps. Baron Hill (D-In.) and Lee Terry's (R-Neb.) leadership in bringing a significant and responsible proposal to increase to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) for debate in the House.
Representatives from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined the Congressmen in a news conference touting the strong support of the Hill-Terry CAFE alternative, H.R. 2927. With the number of cosponsors of the bill growing to over 100 in a remarkable period of time — 11 legislative days — it has quickly become the strong bipartisan alternative to more radical fuel efficiency bills such as H.R. 1506, sponsored by Rep. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Senate Energy bill, H.R. 6.
"The Hill-Terry measure sets rigorous but reasonable increases to the national CAFE standard while complementing rather than contradicting consumer demand," said NADA's VP for Legislative Affairs, David Regan. "Consumers' purchasing decisions will ultimately decide the success or failure of any federal effort to alter fuel economy standards. Drastic government mandates may force automakers to build cars that the American consumer is not interested in buying. If so, they will hold onto their older, less fuel-efficient cars longer, delaying meaningful energy demand and emissions reductions."
Aside from consumer demand, a major concern for manufacturers is meeting the rigorous demands with current and developing technology. Setting the bar too high is not just technologically infeasible, but detrimental to the jobs that produce, supply and service the auto sector.
"Some think fuel efficiency is an issue that only affects a few states or a region or just some small segment of manufacturing," added NAM's Senior Vice President of policy and government relations, Jay Timmons. "I'm here to tell you that the consequences of the wrong choice on CAFE legislation will be felt across the country and throughout the manufacturing economy. Getting this legislation done right is vital to hundreds of thousands of jobs, and supporters of other bills must accept responsibility for downstream effects and job losses in every state and every congressional district."
The Hill-Terry CAFE Alternative effectively balances fuel economy increases with vehicle diversity, safety, and affordability by boosting CAFE 30-40 percent over a 15-year period. Just as important, H.R. 2927 still allows separate attribute-based standards for different vehicle classes, protecting the product diversity that car and truck buyers demand.
"House members recognize that Hill-Terry will provide real fuel savings without compromising the jobs, and consumer choice. It is important to remember that 1 out of 10 US jobs are dependent on the auto industry. We truly are the engine that drives the economy," said Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers President, David McCurdy. "The fact that the bill has gained more than 100 cosponsors in just 11 legislative days demonstrates that this bill has broad, bipartisan support."
With House action on energy expected as soon as next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers have publicly stated that they are supporting the more severe CAFE hike approved by the Senate last month-a 35 mpg minimum combined car/truck standard. To meet the stringent Senate standard and other more radical proposals, automakers could be forced to significantly downsize their vehicles to those that carry less cargo, fewer people, and compromise safety.