House Democrats ask Marathon Petroleum to detail White House talks on vehicle rules

Source: By David Shepardson, Reuters • Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three key U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Wednesday asked Marathon Petroleum Corp to disclose any communications between the White House and federal agencies on the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels through 2026.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and two subcommittee chairs asked Marathon in a letter for all documents it exchanged between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and White House, and to disclose if the oil company was involved in the controversial rule’s development.

The proposal’s preferred option, announced in August 2018 but not finalized, would boost U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels a day by the 2030s.

Marathon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter, also signed by Representatives Paul Tonko and Jan Schakowsky, said the oil industry “stands to profit significantly from the proposed rollback.” It also seeks details of Marathon’s social media efforts related to the proposed regulation.

Pallone said Wednesday “the oil industry is the only winner” from the revised rules.

In April, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler denied the rules were written at the behest of oil industry lobbyists. “This has nothing to do with the oil industry. We’re not doing this for the oil industry. I’m not doing this for the oil industry,” Wheeler told Reuters.

The Trump administration said in August that the freeze would save automakers more than $300 billion in regulatory costs and reduce the projected cost of a new vehicle by $1,850.

Deputy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Heidi King said at a congressional hearing that the agencies are still reviewing more than 650,000 comments and that the agency plans to finalize the rule “soon.”

The Democrats also seek records from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers trade group and other groups.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang