Nissan gave $5,000 to Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund. No surprise, given DeLay’s fervent efforts over the years to protect automakers from any fuel efficiency standards. According to the Detroit News, DeLay was the driving force behind a “freeze,” enacted in the 1990s, which “prohibit[ed] the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from spending any money to even study the possibility of a fuel economy increase.”
That freeze was lifted in 2001, as Congress was set to vote on bills surrounding President Bush’s energy policy. A Congressional panel was considering adding a provision to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards. Automakers, including Nissan, opposed that provision. According to Crain Automotive News, auto lobbyists jumped into action, targeting their favorite advocate:
At a meeting arranged by freshman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Big 3 executives discussed with House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, ways to head off a CAFE increase.
The CEOs of six automakers sent a letter to members of the Michigan congressional delegation and warned of possible adverse consequences for “our companies, suppliers, dealers, employees and consumers.”
CEOs signing the letter are from GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan North America Inc., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and Volkswagen of America Inc.
The Senate rejected attempts to impose CAFE rules in 2002 and 2003.