Senate Commerce Republicans Sound Alarm On Biden Highway Safety Nominee

May 1, 2023

NHTSA Official Has Pushed for Strict Fuel Economy Standards & Electric Vehicle Mandates 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Republican Members led by Ranking Member Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today sent a letter highlighting serious concerns regarding President Biden’s nominee to lead the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), Ann Carlson, and her past record of promoting green energy mandates for the automobile industry.

In the letter, Commerce Republicans wrote:

“Following California’s extreme push to ban gas-powered vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed emissions standards for new vehicles that are so stringent they effectively mandate automakers produce electric vehicles (EV) even if Americans do not want them. The EPA projects these standards would result in two-thirds of all new passenger car and light truck sales being EVs by 2032, even though EVs account for just six percent of new vehicle sales today. Based on your record, we are deeply concerned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will follow the EPA’s lead and propose similarly radical vehicle fuel economy standards that run contrary to the law, diminish vehicle choice, impose higher costs on American families, and undermine our national and energy security all while benefitting China. As NHTSA finalizes a proposal for new fuel economy standards for model years 2027 to 2032, we urge you to reject the EPA’s economically destructive regulatory overreach […]

“Your work at NHTSA and past career suggest NHTSA intends to mimic the EPA’s draconian EV mandate. According to the White House, while serving as NHTSA’s chief counsel, you ‘oversaw the issuance’ last year of NHTSA’s controversial 2024-26 fuel economy standards. That rulemaking led West Virginia, Montana, and multiple other states to allege in a lawsuit that NHTSA exceeded its statutory authority in issuing those standards by impermissibly taking into consideration EVs. As chief counsel, you had a responsibility to ensure that NHTSA’s proposed regulations complied with the law. However, you instead took actions that were consistent with your long career as an environmentalist without traffic safety experience. In fact, as you told colleagues, the Biden administration recruited you to join NHTSA explicitly to advance its “whole of government” climate change agenda.

The Senators conclude:

“We strongly urge NHTSA to reject the EPA’s attempt at central planning and not proceed with a wholesale remake of the auto sector. NHTSA must not write radical regulations that are contrary to the law, harmful to American families, and undermine our national and energy security while benefitting China.”

EXCLUSIVE: Biden pick to head National Highway Traffic Safety Administration faces GOP roadblock

Reporting from The Hill’s Alex Bolton also provides an overview of the challenges Ann Carlson faces in her confirmation fight:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and the other Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee are taking aim at President Biden’s pick to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over fuel-efficiency standards, a sign that another Biden nominee could be in serious trouble.

Two high-profile Biden nominees have already failed to get past the Commerce Committee — Gigi Sohn, Biden’s pick to serve on the Federal Communications Committee, and Phillip Washington, the president’s choice to head the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Now another Biden nominee, Ann Carlson, the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is headed for a Republican buzzsaw in the Commerce Committee.

The full text of the letter can be read here.