By Phil Kerpen
The Biden administration’s infatuation with electric vehicles is no secret, with billions in subsidies lavished on them in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act and now direct bribes to vehicle manufacturers to shift their production. But the president’s so-called “transition” is not being driven only by massive subsidies, but by draconian mandates that will make gasoline-powered vehicles difficult to find and exorbitantly priced far sooner than most Americans expect.
The Biden administration is imposing its mandates via two separate rulemakings, one from the EPA and one from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA (pronounced nitza). The EPA rule is notionally about carbon dioxide and other emissions, but because there is no control technology it is in practice a fuel economy standard, and on shaky legal ground because NHTSA is the agency that by law has exclusive jurisdiction over fuel economy standards. NHTSA has proposed its own rule that is functionally equivalent to the EPA rule, with the Biden administration hoping one or the other will survive in court.
Biden’s goal is laid out plainly on the Green New Deal page of JoeBiden.com, which commits to “developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be electrified” and was formalized in Biden Executive Order 14037, which sets “a goal that 50 percent of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 be zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles.”
This policy is contrary to law. Specifically, 49 U.S.C. § 32902(h)(1), which states NHTSA “may not consider the fuel economy of dedicated automobiles,” defined as “an automobile that operates only on alternative fuel.” This is precisely what the Biden rules do.
Biden’s proposed miles-per-gallon standards are twice the fuel economy of the most efficient gasoline-powered car, the Toyota Prius. The only way to comply with Biden’s fleetwide standard is to dramatically increase electric vehicle sales, and indeed the EPA version of the rule expressly assumes that 30 percent of vehicle sales will be electric vehicles in model year 2027, rising to 67 percent by 2032.
Model year 2027 is right around the corner, and 30 percent is more than triple the current EV market share. That means gasoline-powered vehicles will start being harder to find and sharply more expensive, and soon.
It’s even worse for sedans. The Biden EPA admits that its rules imply 78 percent of sedans sold must be electric vehicles in model year 2032. If you’re looking for one of 22 percent of sedans that are allowed to be gasoline-powered, well: good luck. If you can find one, demand will likely bid the price through the roof.
And if you do decide to join Biden’s transition and buy an electric vehicle, get ready for sticker-shock on your electric bill. Electricity prices are already up 30 percent since Biden took office and other EPA regulations are tightly constraining new electric generating capacity at the same time vehicles are being forced onto the electric grid.
According to Heritage Foundation data scientist Kevin Dayaratna using conventional mainstream climate models, if the United States magically reduced our fossil fuel use to zero, the global warming impact would be a mitigation of 0.2 degrees of temperature rise in the year 2100. It’s all pain and no gain.
Americans deserve the right to buy vehicles that suit their needs and preferences, which overwhelmingly favor internal combustion vehicles even with enormous federal and state subsidies available for electric vehicles. But litigation from Texas and other states against the Biden administration has been moving slowly, with oral arguments finally taking place at the DC Circuit this month. That decision will likely be appealed to an en banc review before finally reaching the Supreme Court in 2025. By then dozens of factories that make internal combustion vehicles may have been closed or retooled – recall the Obama EPA bragging after its illegal anti-coal rules were struck down that the coal plants were already closed.
The survival of internal combustion vehicles may therefore depend on the outcome of the next national elections.