Stabenow Tries to Rewrite History

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:15 pm

The Obama administration’s move today to install strict new fuel efficiency and emission standards for the nation’s vehicles has left some Michigan Democrats in a bind. On one hand, they have a long history of protecting their famously regional industry from new regulations, including stricter fuel efficiency standards. On the other hand, they don’t want to be seen either bucking the White House or impeding progress, particularly as America’s automakers are struggling for their very survival — largely because they resisted a move to the smaller, more fuel efficient cars that are in high demand in recent years.

Enter Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who issued a statement Tuesday attempting to straddle these conflicting interests.

I have always said that a strong, national fuel-economy standard is what our country needs, not a confusing patch work of different state standards. I am pleased that the Obama administration heeded my call and developed a national standard for our automakers to follow — a clear standard that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Yet Stabenow’s voting record tells a different tale. In 2002, for example, the Senate killed a proposal that would have forced automakers to create vehicles with fleet-wide averages of 40 miles-per-gallon by 2015 — “a strong, national fuel economy standard” that Stabenow voted against.

Five years later, in June 2007, the upper chamber approved new fuel standards mandating fleet-wide averages of 35 mpg by 2020. Although the proposal was watered down to eliminate a requirement that automakers increase that efficiency floor by four percent each year between 2020 and 2030, Stabenow again voted against the bill.

And finally, when the Senate approved sweeping energy reforms in December 2007 — including the move to 35 mpg by 2020 — Stabenow was among only eight senators to vote against the bill.

Yeah — good thing the Obama administration heeded her call.

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