The U.S. media's political lens is focused pretty heavily on the health care debate right now, but that doesn't mean other items of interest aren't happening in Washington, D.C. For example, debate over the EPA's endangerment finding that found that greenhouse gases (GHGs), including those from on-road vehicles, threaten the public health and welfare of the American people is far from over.

We heard a week ago that Texas governor Rick Perry (R) was leading a fight to review that endangerment finding. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) is also against the EPA finding and has introduced a bipartisan "disapproval resolution" intended to stop the EPA from actually carrying out any regulatory actions.

Murkowski's resolution is getting some push back, though, in the form of a letter from the chief counsel at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), O. Kevin Vincent. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked NHTSA what effects Murkowski's resolution would have and Vincent found that:
passage of the Murkowski Amendment would have profoundly adverse effects on the national economy, national environment and energy security objectives, and the economically distressed automobile manufacturing industry.
Not exactly limited effects. You can read Vincent's full letter here and find more information after the jump.

[Source: The Union of Concerned Scientists]

PRESS RELEASE

LETTER FROM DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SAYS MURKOWSKI RESOLUTION WOULD HURT AUTOMAKERS, CONSUMERS, THE ENVIRONMENT

According to a letter sent to Sen. Diane Feinstein's office (D-Calif.), the Department of Transportation (DOT) opposes Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) scientific finding that greenhouse gasses endanger public health and welfare.

Last year, President Obama brokered a deal with EPA, DOT, automakers and several states to create new national vehicle standards to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions. Because Murkowski's resolution overturns the EPA's "endangerment finding," it would prevent the agency from implementing these new standards and would effectively break this historic agreement.

The letter, from O. Kevin Vincent, chief counsel at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the DOT department responsible for implementing fuel economy standards, says, "If NHTSA were forced to proceed on its own, many of [the benefits of the national standards] would substantially erode. Moreover, given EPA's grant of the California waiver request in 2009, California and the States that adopted the California standards could move forward to enforce standards that are inconsistent with the Federal standards, thus creating confusion, encouraging renewed litigation, and driving up the cost of compliance to automobile manufacturers and consumers alike."

The auto industry has also publicly opposed Sen. Murkowski's previous efforts to block EPA's authority to move forward with the new national clean vehicle standards. In September, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers sent a joint letter to Sen. Feinstein opposing a nearly identical effort by Sen. Murkowski during the Appropriations process.

According to analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the new national standards would save drivers tens of billions of dollars, reduce U.S. oil consumption by about 1.3 million barrels per day by 2020 (nearly as much as we currently import from Saudi Arabia), and cut global warming emissions by 217 million metric tons in 2020 (the equivalent of taking nearly 32 million of today's cars and light trucks off the road that year).
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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org
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