Prominent Republicans to President Obama: Strong MPG Standards Will Reduce Dangerous US Oil Dependence

Republicans call for higher mileage standards due to economic, national security concerns

Jun 22, 2011, 14:18 ET from The Honorable Sherwood Boehlert

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As federal officials meet behind closed doors to decide what kind of mileage American drivers will get, Republicans who have long served the public - including veteran Congressmen, former EPA chiefs, and three former governors - are urging the President to "set aggressive motor vehicle fuel efficiency and emission standards to help relieve the United States from its dangerous dependence on oil."

In a letter to President Obama, the Republicans note that "the volatility of oil prices along with today's soaring prices at the pump are a threat to our economy and national security." The letter comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) create standards that will determine the average fuel economy of the nation's cars, trucks and SUVs model years 2017-2025. The GOP leaders say that annual fuel-efficiency increases of about six percent through the year 2025 would be achievable for car companies, and cost-effective for consumers.  

The signers include former Governors Michael Castle of Delaware, Jim Douglas of Vermont and Christine Whitman of New Jersey (also EPA Administrator under the George W. Bush Administration), former members of Congress (Sherwood Boehlert NY-23rd, 24th, 25th, Michael Castle DE-At-Large, Vernon Ehlers MI-3rd, Wayne Gilchrest MD-1st, Benjamin Gilman NY-20th, 22nd, 26th, Amory Houghton NY-29th, Connie Morella MD-8th, Jim Ramstad MN-3rd, Christopher Shays CT-4th, Peter Smith VT-At-Large) and EPA Administrators from the Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.

The new standards, which will be announced in the fall, will have a profound effect on America's energy policy, because cars and light trucks are the nation's largest consumers of oil.  

Since the US consumes about a quarter of the world's oil, but only controls about two percent of global reserves, the US is sending more than a billion dollars a day to other countries to buy oil. "If oil continues to be a primary driver of our economy and security, we will hand our destiny to other nations, many of which do not share our interests," the Republican leaders write.

"Reductions in fuel consumption could not come at a more important time. With thousands of U.S. troops fighting overseas, unrest in the Middle East and consumers at home feeling the pain at the pump we must resolve to unshackle ourselves from the world oil market."

The veteran Republicans also recognize the positive jolt standards would give the US auto industry. "Strong, forward-looking standards for new vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions will provide industry with needed certainty for investment in new technologies," they write.

The authors praise efforts by federal officials and the state of California - who are working on the next round of that state's clean-car rules, to dovetail with the federal effort - to strengthen vehicle standards. "We recommend that you promulgate aggressive standards for the 2017 to 2025 vehicles under a national program that will significantly reduce our oil dependence, cut pollution and fortify our economy and national security."

The full text of the letter and a list of signers can be found at

SOURCE The Honorable Sherwood Boehlert