April 6, 2007 - FACT CHECK: Connaughton erred when he said "mandatory"

Today, James Connaughton asserted that what the President was proposing to do regarding auto mileage standards and renewable fuels was "mandatory."

MYTH:  "When you speak of mandatory programs, I'll just give you two big examples. In the State of the Union, the President announced a dramatic commitment to replacing the U.S.'s gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, which will involve a significant new mandate for renewable fuels in our fuel mix, and probably the most substantial improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency through a new regulatory program that has ever been proposed in recent years by any nation. So those would be two examples of mandatory tools that we think would be extremely valuable in reducing greenhouse gases associated with vehicles, for example."


FACT:  In fact, the White House has sent its legislation regarding auto mileage standards to Congress, and the only thing mandatory about it is that it would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to exercise its discretion whether to improve fuel economy OR NOT!  NHTSA already has this discretionary authority.  There are no mandatory increases included in the Administration's bill -- everything is left to the discretion of an agency that has proved very capable of doing nothing for the last 20 years (fuel economy standards for cars have not been increased since 1985.)

Perhaps that is why, when Rep. Markey asked NHTSA Administrator Nason in a hearing Feb 28, 2007 to confirm that there was no mandate to meet the 4 percent goal, she confirmed it:

Rep. Markey: “There's nothing in the Bush bill that I can find that actually mandates a 4% increase.”

NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason:  “"That is correct, Congressman Markey, the President has said 4% as a goal, but we've asked for flexibility in the legislation…”


The relevant questioning begins at 1:44:02 of the archived video of this hearing.

FACT CHECK MATERIALS ATTACHED: Climate CAFE - Rebuttal to Administration1.doc 

April 6, 2007

CONTACT: Will Huntington