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UAW urges Congress to let EPA set new emissions rules

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UAW urges Congress to let EPA set new emissions rules

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- The United Auto Workers union urged Congress on Monday to reject efforts to bar the Obama administration from setting the first-ever limits on tailpipe emissions.

Alan Reuther, the union's legislative director, said in a letter Monday that efforts by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., and others to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from declaring greenhouse gases a danger to public health were "misguided."

"The UAW also is deeply concerned that overturning EPA's endangerment finding would unravel the historic agreement on one national standard for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for light-duty vehicles that was negotiated by the Obama administration last year," Reuther wrote.

In May 2009, the White House, automakers and 13 states led by California reached a deal to impose joint fuel efficiency standards and tailpipe emissions limits for the 2012-16 model years. The final regulation must be in place by April 1 to take effect starting with the 2012 model year.

"Most importantly, California and other states have agreed to forgo state-level regulation of tailpipe emissions and abide by the new national standard that will be created by these NHTSA and EPA rules. This will avoid the burdens that would have been placed on automakers if they had been forced to comply with a multitude of federal and state standards," Reuther said.

"These proposed rules will retain the structural components that Congress enacted in the 2007 energy legislation, thereby providing important flexibility to full line manufacturers and a backstop for the domestic car fleet."

Reuther noted that California could move ahead if the EPA is barred from setting national standards.

"In the absence of the EPA standard, California and other states would certainly move forward with their standards, thereby subjecting auto manufacturers to all of the burdens that the one national standard was designed to avoid," Reuther said.

Murkowski defended her bill, noting Democrats are working with her."We do not want EPA imposing economically harmful climate regulations," she said. "Energy and environmental policies should be developed in Congress, where the best interests of the American people can be represented."

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Murkowski, said the Obama administration had created confusion by reversing a Bush administration decision and granting California power to set its own tailpipe emissions standards.

"They've created this problem and now they are trying to blame us," he said.

Alabama, Virginia and Texas, 13 members of Congress and business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, have filed suit seeking to block EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

But Reuther said legislation from Congress on climate change could spur job growth.

"We believe such legislation can help to provide significant investment in domestic production of advanced technology vehicles and their key components, as well as other energy saving technologies," Reuther said.

Reuther also warned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sets corporate average fuel economy requirements, could also be delayed from setting its standards by month's end if the EPA can't go forward.

NHTSA plans to set a fleetwide standard of 34.1 mpg by the 2016 model year -- a move that boosts fuel efficiency by nearly 40 percent over 2007 levels.

U.S. vehicles account for 23 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed standards would reduce emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles, the EPA said.

From The Detroit News:


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