The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Turn the Auto Industry Bailout Into an Investment, Public Citizen Tells Congressional Leadership

In Exchange for Loans, Public Interest Should Be Detroit’s Top Priority


An additional $25 billion in direct loans to the U.S. auto industry
should come with requirements that put the public's interest first,
Public Citizen told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid in a letter sent today.

A mandate that the auto industry achieve excellence in fuel economy
and safety while minimizing environmental impact would proffer benefits
to Detroit and consumers, thereby transforming a blank check bailout
into a sensible investment in the future of American transportation,
Public Citizen said. The organization recommended that automakers
increase fuel economy across their fleets, so companies receiving
additional loans should show they can achieve fleet fuel economy of 40
miles per gallon by 2020. It also called for automakers not to use
their financial situation as an excuse to undercut basic
crashworthiness technologies.

Public Citizen also encouraged Congress to enact the Reducing Global
Warming Pollution from Vehicles Act of 2008 (S. 2555), a bill to
enforce more stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards in
California and 13 other states. This would further encourage the
industry to produce cleaner vehicles. Finally, the government must
adopt the more realistic calculations for fuel economy standards, the
organization said.

"The financial problems facing domestic manufacturers are largely a
result of their failure to adapt to a changing market and their risky
reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles," Joan Claybrook, president of Public
Citizen, wrote. "Before the American taxpayers come again to the
rescue, the industry should show American taxpayers that they have a
plan to make the best use of this money to deliver fuel economy that
consumers want and need and regain a prominent position in the global
automobile market."

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000