Administration 'Answers' Tesla Direct Sales Petition With A Brief 'No' And Several Paragraphs Of Self-Congratulatory Text
from the the-question-was-about-Tesla,-but-let's-hear-about-YOUR-thing dept
The administration still doesn’t want to talk about pardoning Ed Snowden or reforming the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act), but it has stepped up to cherry pick another petition from the pile over at We The People. The petition, which asks for the government to step in and force states to allow Tesla to sell its cars directly to customers, was created more than a year ago. That puts it right on pace for petition answers, which still average nearly 300 days from the date of creation.
The petition is a little misguided but is an understandable response to state after state protecting incumbent car dealerships by attempting to force Tesla to sell through an established middleman. The amount of tax revenue generated by successful dealerships makes it very hard for state politicians to say “no.” It’s become so common over the past few years that the introduction of Tesla-targeting legislation is a fairly accurate barometer of political corruption.
The petition is simple: force states to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers. The problem is that the Administration can’t rewrite state laws on the fly.
Thanks for your We the People petition. We’re excited about the next generation of transportation choices, including the kind of electric vehicles that Tesla and others have developed. These companies are taking steps to help spur innovation in the promising area of advanced batteries and electric automobiles. Vehicle electrification and other advanced technologies are vital components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and his commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon pollution, in addition to reducing our dependence on oil.
But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.
We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress.
So, the problem must be handled through our nation’s legislators or at state level in each individual state. Neither option is very palatable. State legislators are in no hurry to lose revenue by obliging an upstart (no matter how much its constituents may desire another option) and legislators in DC are no less likely to cater to established entities and their tax dollars/contributions.
But let’s not waste too much more time discussing the low-level corruption that prevents new entrants into markets. Let’s hear some more about the administration’s exciting Climate Action Plan, because that’s cleary what Dan Utech, “Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,” really wants to talk about. (Questions concerning the administration’s decision to send an energy/climate change advisor to answer an auto sales regulation petition will also presumably go unanswered.)
We are already making significant progress in promoting vehicle efficiency: new vehicle fuel economy has increased by 12% since 2008 and consumers now can choose from five times more car models with a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago. In December 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy, after increasing seven of the last eight years…
Thanks, Dan, but we were hoping you could address consumers’ interests being ignored by government—
The President has taken historic action to spur more consumer choice — saving consumers money at the pump and reducing our dependence on oil. Here are some of the ways we’re helping to encourage the future generation of energy-efficient cars…
…and so on for another three paragraphs. Five out of seven paragraphs are nothing more than the administration very sincerely congratulating itself for being so awesome and forward-thinking. Very little deals with the actual petition, but I guess we should be grateful it was acknowledged at all.
The final paragraph attempts to portray the government as innovation’s best friend:
As these initiatives show, the Administration is in favor of fostering competition in the market to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to support ongoing U.S. leadership in vehicle manufacturing and a potential range of new technologies.
Maybe the administration (or at least Dan Utech) is truly “in favor of fostering competition in the market,” but the government is the government is the government. Consumers want more options, established businesses want consumers to have fewer, and all too frequently the “government,” whether it’s local, state or national, sides with those on the established side. The administration can’t force states to change laws, but it could at least offer something better in response than a press release masquerading as an “answer.”