NAS Should Cancel Hearing on Fuel Efficiency Report

Oct. 4, 2001

NAS Should Cancel Hearing on Fuel Efficiency Report
Public Citizen Urges Academy Not to Be Swayed by Automakers

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Public Citizen is urging the National Academy of Sciences to cancel an Oct. 5 hearing that was scheduled because of automaker complaints about a controversial report on automobile fuel efficiency.

In a letter to National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts, Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook urged the Academy not to be unduly swayed by automakers. If the Academy wants to reconsider the findings, it should follow proper procedures and solicit written comments from a variety of interested parties to ensure the process is open and fair, Claybrook said.

“If you follow far more appropriate procedures of requiring written critiques first, you will save yourself a lot of richly deserved criticism and concerns of bias toward the regulated industry,” Claybrook wrote. “I urge you to stand on higher ground.”

The NAS report, issued in July, said automakers should increase fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse emissions. Automakers instantly howled in protest and questioned the scientists? methods, and the industry then met privately with an NAS committee and demanded recalculation of the report?s conclusions.

If, after reviewing critiques from all interested people, the Academy should conclude the report has errors, it should schedule a public meeting to discuss everyone?s concerns ? not just those of the industry, Claybrook said.

Doing so “would be fair and appropriate for an academy that relishes its scientifically based, even-handed approach to controversial issues,” she wrote. “The decision to overreact to the auto industry complaints and schedule a special meeting at their request with no prior written documentation places a stain on the Academy?s reputation.”

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