Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has sent new letters today to the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and two senior officials with the Environmental Protection Agency over answers they gave during last week’s hearing on the government’s plans to hike fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The hearing “Running on Empty” looked into the government’s plan to double fuel efficiency from current levels. Under NHTSA’s calculations, CAFE will average 49.6 mpg by 2025. But under EPA’s calculations, its emissions limits translate into 54.5 mpg — because automakers can get credit for improving air conditioning — something NHTSA can’t do. EPA by law can’t set corporate average fuel economy standards.
EPA’s Gina McCarthy told the committee that the two figures “are closely aligned, but they are different.”
Issa said the idea that the two are the same defies “common sense.” He noted that the White House has highlighted the EPA emissions limits and expressed them in mpg terms. “Your statements under oath misrepresented the relationship between fuel economy standards and significantly misdirected the subcommittee’s attention,” Issa wrote, calling the two “a distinction without a difference.”
Obama said in July: “By 2025, the average fuel economy of their vehicles will nearly double to almost 55 miles per gallon.” Issa added: “The reference to 55 miles per gallon, is of course, a reference to the greenhouse gas standards set by EPA.”
Issa wants Strickland, McCarthy and Margo Oge, another senior EPA official who testified, to explain the differenecs between the two standards by Nov. 1.
A spokeswoman for Strickland, Lynda Tran, said NHTSA had received the letter and will respond.