From Heartland Daily News
By Mandy Gunasekara
The Biden administration has released new emissions control standards for vehicles. Dubbed the “most ambitious climate regulation” of all time, they have grabbed the headlines, but the technical realities and high costs have meant both regulations are going straight on the wall.
The light commercial vehicle category includes cars, trucks and vans and requires 67% of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2032. The heavy-duty vehicle category includes 18-wheelers, buses and other professional vehicles, and requires half of new buses and a quarter of new car sales to be electric by 2032. For comparison, last year EV sales accounted for 5.8% of new vehicle sales and less than 2% for heavier trucks. Rather than being ambitious, these proposed standards represent a new level of regulatory insanity.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA administrator to establish vehicle regulations aimed at reducing pollutants from light commercial vehicles that negatively impact public health and the environment. When establishing these standards, the administrator must consider the feasibility of new technologies as well as the costs. That’s what Team Biden promised when it committed to setting a “data-driven” target. But it’s hard to imagine how any reputable expert would support the notion that in less than five years, when automakers begin developing vehicles for the 2032 model year, they can develop enough EVs and source the vast amount of critical minerals batteries and convince skeptical consumers to massively change their purchasing priorities in order to achieve this goal.
Despite numerous government-sponsored incentives, the adoption rate of electric vehicles remains low for a variety of reasons. Even with major advances in electric vehicle technology, it still takes hours to charge batteries while filling gas tanks takes minutes. Combined with a limited network of charging stations, electric vehicles remain difficult to sell. Even the majority of current EV owners still rely on gas-powered vehicles – 78% own a second gas-powered car to meet their transportation needs.
Future demand is also non-existent. A new AP-NORC poll found that just 19% of Americans are “very likely or extremely likely” to switch to electric vehicles. Gallup also backed the enthusiasm claim, implying that Americans are “too slow in adopting electric vehicles.” Even more concerning for EV advocates, even if this push were possible, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted that by 2050 only 9% of US vehicles would be electric.
The government is showing deafness by promoting expensive alternatives to reliable petrol cars. Many Americans are struggling to afford eggs and meat in an inflationary economy. Low- and middle-income people are highly unlikely to plan to buy a car that costs an average of $54,000. The availability of tax subsidies does not change this equation. To date, most EV drivers live in households making at least $150,000 a year or more. In states like Mississippi, where the median income is around $50,000, electric vehicles are prohibitively expensive, and regulations like the proposed Biden standards will only drive those costs up.
One of the country’s leading automakers called the proposal “aggressive” and “unprecedented” even by itself – suggesting the government is going too far and too fast. Given that the industry has already invested billions in expanding vehicle electrification, their statements should be carefully considered. While the industry has embraced the transitional narrative, it is rightly concerned about the condensed timeline and unrealistic expectations in the current proposal.
Despite serious technical hurdles and overwhelming consumer preference for gas-powered vehicles, Team Biden appears to have done with the carrot approach and is using the regulatory stick to foist its all-electric future on Americans. The courts could once again be the salvation.
Critics have the opportunity to make legal arguments against the EPA. The biggest legal elephant in the room is the West Virginia v. EPA decision, which invoked the “big questions” doctrine. Specifically, the Supreme Court clarified that agencies must refer to “unambiguous congressional approval” when taking actions of “significant economic or political importance.” One can argue in this case that the EPA is unable to redesign the entire transportation industry in the same way that the agency was unable to redesign entire energy markets in the case of West Virginia.
The currently proposed rules have numerous technical and legal weaknesses. They are also jeopardizing progress on the environmental front, as Americans will no doubt be content to keep older cars longer rather than racking up large debts to buy a new, less reliable car. As a result, the reach of new technologies and the benefits that come with them, such as less pollution and safer roads, will not materialise.
Mandy Gunasekara is Director of the Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Energy and Conservation and was previously Chief of Staff at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Follow her on Twitter at @MississippiMG
Originally published by RealClearEnergy. Republished with permission.
To learn more about new emissions standards, click here.
To learn more about Biden’s push for electric vehicles, click here.