California Republican Darrell Issa isn’t interested in energy security, reducing pollution, helping consumers cuts costs or preparing the nation for peak oil. The same day that the Obama administration announced an historic fuel efficiency standard that will reduce oil dependency by billions of gallons, save consumers $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and stimulate tens of thousands of jobs, Issa said last Friday he wants an investigation into the negotiations.
Just as they did after the administration established new fuel standards in 2009, Republicans are questioning the integrity of the negotiations, according to The Hill:
Issa sent out letters to executives of the country’s major automakers Friday alerting them to the investigation and requesting that they keep all documents related to meetings with administration officials on the standards.
In the letters, which were obtained by The Hill, Issa says the administration’s efforts to negotiate the fuel economy standards “raise serious concerns.” The new rules, which were announced Friday by President Obama, will also limit consumer choice, Issa says.
“I am concerned about the agreements lack of transparency, the failure to conduct an open rulemaking process, as well as the potential for vehicle cost increases on consumers, and negative impact on American jobs,” the letters say.
Obama reportedly talked automakers up from 40 mpg to 54.5 mpg by 2025 – presumably by throwing in a “re-opener” that will allow manufacturers to re-negotiate standards after 2021. Many of the negotiations took place behind closed doors in the days leading up to the announcement.
As Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa has the authority to lead such inquiries.
Before being elected chairman of the committee, he famously called for an examination of the emails between climate scientists after the “climategate” scandal – a decision he eventually dropped, perhaps because numerous other government inquiries exonerated the scientists.
Issa says he’s concerned about transparency in the fuel efficiency negotiations. (This coming from a man who bought tens of thousands of dollars in Goldman Sachs bonds while simultaneously thwarting an investigation of the company.)
His political posturing is a classic example of the environmental witch-hunt playing out in politics – what journalist Will Potter calls the “Green Scare.” In an interview with Grist, he describes the phenomenon:
The intention with these legislative efforts is not only to enact new laws, but to use Congressional hearings and political theater to shift cultural perceptions of these movements. The final element is perhaps the most dangerous of them all. During the Red Scare, court cases and legislation sent people to prison, but scare-mongering tactics (PR campaigns, press conferences, ads, reckless use of language to demonize people) leveraged the weight of fear…
This is exactly what we’re seeing in Congress today. The President has unveiled a law supported by the American public and the auto industry that will dramatically reduce oil consumption and stimulate innovation in the auto manufacturing sector. But apparently that’s still too radical for the House leadership?
Just one more reason why this is the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in history.