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Letter to the White House Chief of Staff on the National Fuel Economy Standards

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 8:00pm

The Honorable William L. Daley
Chief of Staff
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Chief of Staff Daley:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and
region, believes that reasonable transportation policies can contribute to economic and energy
security. Given that the Administration is in the process of developing national fuel economy
standards for the 2017-2025 model years, I would like to share the Chamber’s views.

American businesses depend on safe, efficient, and reliable transportation. With the
recent increase in gas prices and turmoil in the Middle East, reducing fuel use and dependence
on foreign oil is on all our minds. The Chamber has consistently encouraged the development of
new technologies and increased domestic energy production. The Chamber also supports efforts
to improve fuel economy by laying out a long-term, national program, but encourages the
Administration to pursue a balanced and thoughtful approach.

The Chamber believes National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alone should
adopt a single, national fuel economy standard that considers America’s needs for increased fuel
economy while preserving the choices for families and businesses to meet their transportation
needs without sacrificing affordability, safety, or jobs. The existing 2012-2016 standard
established jointly by NHTSA and EPA already raises the fleet average by 40 percent, to 35
miles per gallon. Looking forward, future technological developments may well result in further
improvements to fuel economy. But overreaching and duplicative regulations by federal
agencies or states can place a significant and unnecessary cost burden on individuals, families,
and businesses. For this reason, among others, NHTSA alone should set national fuel economy
standards.

It is important that standards for 2017-2025 support a broad range of consumer needs in
terms of utility and function. Americans require a range of vehicles to meet their family and
business needs. Large families need automobiles with sufficient passenger space, including
room for multiple child-safety seats in the back. Small businesses need vans and utility vehicles
to conduct commerce. Agriculture depends on pickup trucks, as do the construction industry and
local trades. If national fuel economy standards are set too high, automakers may not be able to
make the types of vehicles that Americans need.

American businesses all share the need for affordable transportation. The next phase of
fuel economy standards should not pick winners and losers, but should support a variety of
technologies and fuel diversity to preserve affordability. If fuel economy standards increase too
quickly, resulting in more expensive vehicles, consumers can be expected to hold on to their
older vehicles longer and defer buying new ones, which could put jobs across the country at risk
and delay compliance with federal air quality standards. Affordability, customer choice, and job
preservation should be as much a priority as raising fuel economy.

The Chamber encourages the Administration to carefully balance the factors that impact
sensible fuel economy standards, including consumer choice, affordability, and the economic
concerns that weigh on our nation’s fragile recovery.

Sincerely,

R. Bruce Josten

cc: The Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary, Department of Transportation
The Honorable Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
The Honorable Cass Sunstein, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory
Affairs