Ann Carlson has been nominated by Joe Biden to become the next National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) director, prompting the Western Energy Alliance to send a response letter. They were joined by 45 other associations and addressed to the Senate, which is tasked with running the confirmation process. The group accused Biden of recruiting Carlson to turn the agency into a “climate change enforcement body.” They said Carlson has a specific plan to enforce climate change rules but lacks transparency,

“Her 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,” the letter continued, “We are also concerned by Carlson’s lack of transparency about her work promoting spurious climate change litigation.”

The American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Oil & Gas Association both signed the letter.

Carlson, who was nominated by Biden in February. She said her selection proved that Biden was serious about a climate change agenda and displayed his “whole of government” approach to the issue. According to Just the News, She bragged to her UCLA colleagues that the NHTSA is “in charge of climate standards for cars and trucks, which is why they have recruited me for the position.”

Carlson believes we need to get climate change under control by getting rid of coal.

She has also discussed having the government regulate appliances like “heating, air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration,” claiming that the real enemy is climate change. However, many experts disagree with Carlson and believe that the overriding concern of leftist Democrats is not protecting the environment but rather exerting control while increasing the taxation of their constituents. Scientists have also not come to a consensus on the environmental benefits of so-called green energy.


Republican senators also spoke out about Carlson. They believe she would likely follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s “lead” interring to push for a green climate agenda while pushing the US to move away from gas-powered vehicles. This is problematic for multiple reasons. It makes the US too reliant on China, whose relationship with America is borderline hostile and also attempts to move America off of reliable sources of energy before new sources are available and able to meet demands.

The NHTSA website says their mission is quite different from what Carlson is pushing. Their stated goal is to “save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement activity.”

The letter states the alliance’s concern is that Carlson has the wrong focus and that the pressing issue is not climate change but rather traffic safety and cited four statements Carlson had made regarding Biden’s nominating her for the role:

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 number of highway fatalities has increased at unacceptable rates over the past decade, accelerating further under the Biden Administration.

From 2011-2021, annual highway deaths increased by 32%, from 22,020 to 29,148.

Though full data for 2022 are not yet available, the agency reported 31,785 fatalities for the first three quarters, nearly 30% higher than the 10-year average for the same period. Furthermore, the most recent NHTSA data show the economic costs of all traffic crashes totaled $340 billion in 2019, roughly.

NHTSA needs an Administrator focused on saving lives and mitigating harm, not reorienting the agency to engage in a whole-of-government approach to climate change. Yet Ms. Carlson appears more concerned about limiting greenhouse gas emissions than fatalities and traffic accidents, as evidenced by her record as NHTSA’s chief counsel. As revealed through a FOIA inquiry, her statements show her attention is far from highway safety:

 “The agency is in charge of climate standards for cars and trucks, which is why they have recruited me for the position,” she stated in an email to colleagues at UCLA.

 “I think it’s important NHTSA has climate people—they never have before,” in an email to the California Natural Resources Agency.

 “I view my appointment (and a number of others) as evidence that the Biden Administration is truly committed to a ‘whole of government’s approach to addressing climate change,” in an email to Emmett Institute on Climate Change.

“I’ve been appointed by the Biden-Harris team to serve as NHTSA’s Chief Counsel. The deputy is also a climate person…I understand NHTSA was not the partner it could have been during the Obama era—our appointments are meant to change that,” in an email to Harvard Professor and former Obama climate advisor Jody Freeman.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will give Carlson her first hearing. If she receives a favorable recommendation, the decision will move to the Senate to vote on her confirmation.


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