Michigan’s Democratic senators have signed onto a bill that allows automakers to apply credits for model years as far back as 2009 to help comply with federal auto emission rules that require automakers to produce car and truck fleets that average around 41 miles per gallon by 2021.
Backers of the measure say the change will help “streamline” federal emission standards by addressing conflicts in existing rules that are enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Environmentalists and consumer advocates argue the measure would weaken U.S. gas mileage rules by allowing automakers to get credit for previously achieved mileage improvements.
The measure, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., would allow automakers to apply credits for auto pollution reduction earned after the 2009 model year to help meet federal emission standards for the model years between 2016 and 2021.
Backers of the bill say the measure, known as the Fuel Economy Harmonization Act, addresses long-standing conflicts between NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas emissions programs, which the Obama administration announced in 2009 would be managed as one program.
“The conflicting fuel economy standards that are currently in place at NHTSA and EPA drive up manufacturing costs, which are ultimately passed on to consumers,” Blunt said in a statement. “This bill gets us closer to one national fuel economy standard program that meets the goals of both the NHTSA and EPA programs in a less costly, more efficient way. It is a bipartisan, commonsense step we can take to lower costs and boost U.S. auto manufacturing.”
Michigan’s Democratic U.S. senators agreed, signing on to the measure as co-sponsors.
“I continue to support one strong national standard that promotes innovation, increases fuel economy, reduces carbon emissions and ensures more choices for consumers,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said in a statement. “Fuel economy standards have helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs for Michigan workers. Our bill makes simple changes so our manufacturers, suppliers and workers can continue to make the best products in the world.”
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, added: “Increased fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions are key to both protecting our environment and keeping America economically competitive. I strongly support a unified national standard that spurs the development of innovative advanced vehicle technology, creates jobs here at home in America and Michigan and avoids a patchwork of regulations.”
The Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers, said the measure would help to fulfill regulators’ promises to “harmonize” the NHTSA and EPA fuel economy rules to prevent consumers from having to pay higher prices for cars.
“Automakers commend the sponsors of this bipartisan legislation for seeking to better align to government programs to avoid unnecessary costs that ultimately are paid by consumers,” the group, which lobbies for automakers in Washington, said. “We urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible to help keep automobiles affordable to the widest range of customers.”
Environmentalists and consumer advocates painted a starkly different picture of the legislation, arguing it is an attempt to weaken federal emission standards that automakers have wanted to weaken for years.
Read more of the original article at The Detroit News.