Auto Bailout Bill Lists Environmental Goals above Boosting U.S. Auto Sales

By Terence P. Jeffrey | December 10, 2008 | 7:25 PM EST

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., at right, talks about a possible bailout of American automakers during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( - The draft legislation that would enshrine in federal law the agreement that President Bush and the Democratic Congress have made to bailout U.S. automakers lists the environmental purposes of the bill above the purpose of increasing sales of American-made automobiles.

Section 2 of the draft legislation states what Congress perceives to be the “purposes” of the bill.  The first “purpose” listed is “to immediately provide authority and facilities to restore liquidity and stability to the domestic automobile industry in the United States.”
The second “purpose” specifically cited is “to ensure that such authority and such facilities are used in a manner that—(A) results in a viable and competitive automobile industry that minimizes adverse effects on the environment; (B) enhances the ability and the capacity of the domestic automobile industry to pursue the timely and aggressive production of energy-efficient advanced technology vehicles.”
Only after these two environmental priorities are stated as “purposes” does the legislation go on to list “( C ) preserves and promotes the jobs of American workers employed directly by the domestic automobile industry and in related industries; (D) safeguards the ability of the domestic auto industry to provide retirement and health care benefits for the industry’s retirees and their dependents; and (E) stimulates manufacturing and sales of automobiles produced by automobile manufacturers in the United States.”
Section 3 of the draft bill authorizes the president to name a “designee” who has been dubbed the “Car Czar,” although under the actual terms of the bill this “designee” need not necessarily be a single person.
The bill suggests that this person or persons have expertise in “energy efficiency” and “environmental protection.”
The bill says: “The President shall designate 1 or more officers of the Executive Branch having appropriate expertise in such areas as economic stabilization, financial aid to commerce and industry, financial restructuring, energy efficiency, and environmental protection (who shall hereinafter in this Act be collectively referred to as the ‘President’s designee’) to carry out the purposes of this Act, including the long-term financial viability of domestic automobile manufacturers, who shall serve at the pleasure of the President.”
Section 6 of the bill authorizes this “designee,” or Car Czar, to approve the restructuring plans of the auto makers “if the President’s designee determines that the plan will result in—(1) the repayment of all Government-provided financing, consistent with the terms specified in section 11, or otherwise agreed to; (2) the ability—(A) to comply with applicable fuel efficiency and emissions requirements; (B) to commence domestic manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles, as described in section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.”
Result 6 that the Car Czar is supposed to ensure that the auto restructuring plans will achieve is “a product mix and cost structure that is competitive in the United States marketplace.”