Auto industry officials told a House subcommittee yesterday that President Carter's gas guzzler tax and rebate proposal would be "redundant and disruptive," reduce car sales and introduce auto industry unemployment.
Herbert L. Misch. Ford Motor Co. vice president for environmental and safety engineering, also contended that fuel economy standards enacted into law in 1975 would achieve the Carter administration's goal of a 10 per cent reduction in gas consumption by 1985.Misch said the standard set by the Energy Police and Conservation Act of 1975 of a 27.5 miles per gallon average standard for each auto manufacturer would cause gas consumtpion to decline by 23 per cent by 1985 compared to 1976 levels.
Environmentalist Brian T. Ketcham, vice president of Citizens for Clean Air, Inc., disputed those figures, sayin fuel economy standards by themselves would only have a "modest effect." He said the 27.5 miles per gallon standard would only "penetrate the market" 10 years after it became operative in 1985 and "even with active gasoline and excise taxes," it will only save about a million barrels of oil a day. This is a 2 or 3 per cent dent in our expected energy consumption level."
Ketcham, who called for a stiffer gas tax than Carter has proposed, said the fuel economy standards plus taxes were "all horribly inadequate and 18 years away."
At the ouset of his testimony, Ketcham sent subcommittee chairman Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). a staunch defender of the auto industry, into a rage, when Ketchan tried to protest being scheduled to testify late in hte day, after auto industry spokesmen had all thad their say.
A rumor that Ketcham would try to disrupt the hearing to make his protest early in the day caused Dingell to station two Capitol Hill policemen inside the hearing room.
Ketcham did not try to disrupt the hearing. But as he began testifying late in the afternoon, he told Dingell he was "insulted by the cops being brought in here. I'm insulted because I didn't come here to cause a ruckus. I came here to peaceably testify," Ketcham said.
Dingell shouted that if Ketcham hadn't intended to cause a disruption "you shouldn't feel insulted. There was no insult intended." When Ketcham tried to respond, Dingell slammed dow the gavel, ruled him out of order and ordered him to "address yourself to the subject at hand."
"Well, you got my message," Ketcham said. Dingell screamed back, "I didn't get your message. You got mine."
Misch also complained that the Carter adminsitration's auto emission control standards, proposed for the Clean Air Act Congress is now working on, would "cause us to suffer 5 to 10 per cent poorer fuel economy." He added, "The nation's fuel conservation goals will suffer for air quality improvements to small to measure."