Maloney, Rouda, Tlaib, and Whitehouse Probe Industry Influence Over EPA

May 28, 2020

Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Vice Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Environment, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter requesting information from Marathon Petroleum Corporation about efforts by the company, trade associations, and front groups funded by fossil fuel interests to roll back the Obama Administration’s clean cars rule.   

“We are seeking information and documents regarding your company’s involvement in the Trump Administration’s efforts to degrade emissions standards for cars and light trucks and to revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its own more protective emissions standards,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Based on testimony before the Subcommittee on Environment and comments filed in response to the Administration’s recent regulatory proposal, it appears that the oil industry—and Marathon in particular—are driving forces behind the Trump Administration’s decision to weaken tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks,” they added.

On October 29, 2019, Chairman Rouda held a hearing on the Trump Administration’s rollback of the clean cars rule, including the actions of Marathon Petroleum, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and other Koch-funded organizations to undermine the rule. 

“We are concerned that the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, a rollback of the Obama Administration’s ‘clean cars rule,’ reflects the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry over the rulemaking process and raises serious questions about whether the Trump Administration is endangering the health and safety of the American people for the sake of higher profits for oil companies,” the lawmakers noted.

“In addition, given the large number of tax exempt, non-profit organizations that appear to have been activated in support of the oil industry’s campaign to weaken emissions standards, we have questions about the relationship between industry and these organizations, as well as whether their operations are consistent with their tax exempt status,” they concluded.

The Members asked Marathon to produce documents and information by June 11, 2020.

New Video

In conjunction with this effort, today Chairman Rouda and Senator Whitehouse also released a new video featuring Jared Blumenfeld, the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency; Dr. Aaron Bernstein, the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Hilton Kelley, the Director of the Community in Power Development Association and resident of Port Arthur, Texas.  Each discussed the impact of key actions by the EPA over the past several months that harm public health:

  • Revoking California’s Clean Cars Standards:  EPA revoked the Clean Air Act waiver that allows California to set vehicle emission standards that are more protective than the federal government.  Secretary Blumenfeld stated, “We’re going to continue to ensure that California’s authority under the Clean Air Act is maintained.”  
  • Withdrawal of Mercury Rule Finding:  EPA withdrew a key finding in relation to the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule that the regulation of mercury emissions and other air toxins were “appropriate and necessary.”  Dr. Bernstein stated: “There is a real regressive component to these rollbacks and that applies to MATS and the CAFE standards, where the harms are not equally shared. They are actually disproportionate and burdensome of the poor and people of color.”
  • Failure to Strengthen Particulate Matter Standards:  EPA announced its decision not to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter even though recent research has discovered a possible link to increased air pollution and a heightened risk of coronavirus deaths.  EPA scientists also recommended that the agency set a stricter fine particulate matter standard.  Dr. Bernstein stated:  “The reality is that there are now ten other studies around the world that effectively show that air pollution in many different countries has either increased the severity of the disease, the risk of getting the disease, or dying from the disease.”
  • Pollution Enforcement Holiday:  EPA suspended enforcement on a large range of environmental and health protections with no definite end date, exacerbating the negative effects on Americans’ health.  Mr. Kelley described the outsized influence of industry over EPA’s decision-making process as “the fox guarding the hen house.”  He added:  “We are getting no support from the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to enforcement.”

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