WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Obama administration says automakers could face sharp cost increases if Congress stops a U.S. agency from finalizing tailpipe emission standards.
The Detroit News reported the chief counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, O. Kevin Vincent, has written a letter to congressional leaders warning that blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from using its powers to limit greenhouse emissions would jeopardize a deal reached by automakers, California and the White House.
Vincent said blocking the EPA's powers would have the effect of "creating confusion, encouraging renewed litigation and driving up the cost of compliance to automobile manufacturers and consumers alike," Vincent wrote.
The News said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced legislation to block EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions from motor vehicles and other sources. In addition, two Democratic chairmen of the House Agriculture and Armed Services Committees have introduced similar legislation.
NHTSA and EPA want to finalize by April 1 a joint fuel economy and tailpipe emissions limit for the 2012-2016 model years. The limit would cost the industry $60 billion to cut emissions by 30 percent, the News reported, and by 2016 cars and trucks would average 34.1 miles per gallon.
"We do not want EPA imposing economically harmful climate regulations. Energy and environmental policies should be developed in Congress," Murkowski said, "where the best interests of the American people can be represented."
A spokesman for Murkowski said the Obama administration created confusion by reversing a Bush administration decision and granting California power to set its own tailpipe emissions standards.
"They've created this problem and now they are trying to blame us," he said.