Cruz and Pfluger excoriate nomination

Carlson’s appointment to head NHTSA must be stopped, they say

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. August Pfluger responded to a letter from 43 oil and natural gas organizations Monday to say they strenuously oppose President Biden’s nomination of Ann Carlson to become administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cruz, who represents Texas on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said through a spokesman that Carson’s “record of radical environmentalism and irresponsible attacks on Americans’ daily life seems to grow longer by the day.

“Whether it is your car or your gas stove, her nomination is a signal from the Biden administration that more unfeasible green energy mandates are on the way whether consumers can afford the consequences or not,” Cruz said.

The senator released a letter that he and the committee’s 12 other Republicans had just sent to Carlson, saying in part, “Based on your record, we are deeply concerned that the NHTSA will follow the EPA’s lead and propose similarly radical vehicle fuel economy standards that run contrary to the law, diminish vehicle choice, impose higher costs on American families and undermine our national and energy security, all while benefitting China.”

Pfluger told the Odessa American that Congress had not authorized the NHTSA to address climate change.

“The NHTSA’s mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes through education, research, safety standards and enforcement activity,” said Pfluger, a Republican who represents Ector and Midland counties in the 11th Congressional District.

“In no way did Congress intend for the NHTSA to work to address climate change and the Biden administration’s nomination of Ann Carlson as administrator is yet another action to change the focus of our federal agencies from their critical responsibilities towards solving climate change,” Pfluger said. “With the number of fatal accidents rising, it is critical the NHTSA is led by individuals committed to the core mission of saving lives due to traffic crashes.”

Carlson is a former professor of environmental law at UCLA who served as chief counsel to the NHTSA prior to her appointment as acting administrator last September.

The slight Democratic majority on the committee could approve her nomination by majority vote, but the Republicans could block it by enlisting the support of Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and conservative Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as they did in denying the recent nominations of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission and Phillip Washington to head the Federal Aviation Administration.

Joined by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association, Texas Alliance of Energy Producers and Panhandle Producers & Royalty Owners, oil and gas groups from around the nation wrote a May 3 protest letter to Cruz and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“We provide 70 percent of the nation’s energy that supports life-sustaining functions such as keeping Americans warm in the winter, getting them to work and school to better their lives, powering ICUs and medical devices and delivering food to the dinner table,” the organizations said. “Oil and natural gas provide the feedstock for thousands of products used every day from anything with a computer chip to fertilizer to feed the world.

“American oil and natural gas are developed under strict environmental controls with industry-driven technologies that make it the most sustainably produced in the world.”

The groups said Carlson’s “multiple public statements reveal a clear agenda to go beyond NHTSA’s congressionally mandated mission on vehicle performance and safety standards and turn it into a climate change enforcement body.

“We are also concerned by Carlson’s lack of transparency about her work promoting spurious climate change litigation,” they said. “Today the most pressing concern of NHTSA is not climate change impacts decades into the future but traffic safety in the here and now. Americans face real dangers from distracted and impaired drivers behind the wheel and potential vehicle safety standard violations.”

The groups said the number of annual highway fatalities in the U.S. increased by 32 percent, from 22,020 to 29,148, between 2011 and 2021 and totaled 31,785 through the first three quarters of last year.