Romney Opposes Fuel Efficiency Standards Actually Moving U.S. Toward Energy Independence
Last week, Mitt Romney unveiled a plan for “energy independence” by 2020, a proposal analysts called unrealistic, in part because he would roll back the same initiatives responsible for lowering U.S. foreign oil consumption.
Today, the Obama Administration is set to announce new rules that boost fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which would save 3 million barrels of oil per day, 2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution, and create 570,000 jobs by 2030.
Romney not only opposes these new rules, but he would undo existing standards requiring new cars reach an average of 35.5 MPG by 2016, the first improvement the fuel economy standards stalled for two decades. Last fall, Romney said he “would get the EPA out of its effort to manage carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks.” This spring, Romney blasted fuel economy standards again:
ROMNEY: In my view, the industry got in trouble because the UAW asked for too much, management gave too much and made other mistakes, and the government CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards hurt domestic automakers and provided a benefit to some of the foreign automakers.
The truth is the complete reverse, since higher mileage standards have prompted U.S. automakers to become competitive with efficient foreign cars, while reducing U.S. oil consumption by 2 million barrels per day by 2025. Romney’s own plan for “energy independence” uses Citigroup research based off the assumption that “‘the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that will lower its oil demand.” We’ll get even closer to that goal with 54.5 MPG standards.
These standards have helped revive the auto industry. Automotive News reported that new fuel-efficient vehicles are the key drivers of the 2012 increase in sales:
“The changeover to high-mpg models, in all segments is the key market driver this year. Dealers say it has been the release valve on pent-up demand as fuel prices soared.”
In addition, the new standards reduced U.S. gasoline consumption this year. The Energy Information Administration cites the improvements in fuel efficiency as one of these reasons, noting the standards “help reduce gasoline consumption, as more efficient vehicles use less fuel for each mile driven.”
Both the existing and proposed improvements in fuel economy have the support of domestic and nearly all foreign auto companies, the United Auto Workers, states, and other stakeholders.
Romney once supported fuel efficiency, by adopting California standards setting limits on carbon pollution from vehicles as Massachusetts governor. In 2002, he proposed tax breaks for fuel efficient cars and an excise tax for gas-guzzlers.
A few years later, Romney blasted achievable 35 MPG by 2016 standards as an “anvil” weighing down the industry. But since the auto industry bridge loans, and measures like CAFE standards, automakers have bounced back, with fuel efficient cars as a major driver of the 2012 increase in sales. The industry has created 139,000 jobs since 2009, with its strongest sales in the last quarter.
But Romney’s administration would allow our domestic auto industry to once again fall behind its competitors in the rest of the world. It would leave drivers vulnerable to oil and gasoline price spikes. And it would increase our demand for foreign oil imports. The only winners would be big oil companies and members of the OPEC oil cartel.