The Biden administration’s push for an electric vehicle (EV) mandate has received massive opposition from a wide range of stakeholders, including 26 states and the energy, agriculture, and automotive industries. Critics say that the new fuel standards would increase consumer costs and put an unfair burden on U.S. businesses. 

On November 24, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which mandate automakers to more than double fuel efficiency in less than a decade or face substantial penalties. In other words, they could only sell EVs. 

The NHTSA announced the CAFE standards three months after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the most draconian aggressive tailpipe emissions to date, which would result in 67% of new sedan, crossover, SUV, and light-truck purchases being electric by 2032. 

“NHTSA’s proposal is yet another attempt by the Biden administration to restrict Americans’ freedom to decide what vehicle fits their needs and budget,” said Will Hupman, vice president of downstream policy for the American Petroleum Institute. “Combined with EPA’s proposed tailpipe emissions standards, these rules amount to a de facto ban on cars and trucks using liquid fuels, which can and should be a part of the solution to reduce carbon emissions.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API)’s letter to NHTSA says that, while supporting policies to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, the proposed CAFE standards would harm consumer choice, raise costs, and create a “vulnerable” transportation sector, due to its dependence on EVs. 

 The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote in a letter that it believes that the NHTSA has exceeded its legal authority by setting fuel economy standards “at a level that is not feasibly achievable by internal combustion engine vehicles, effectively establishing a de facto electric vehicle mandate.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey agrees. He led a coalition of 26 states in writing a letter of opposition to the proposed new rules, arguing that not only did the NHTSA overstep its legal authority but also that these regulations would threaten national security and put an overwhelming amount of stress on the power grid. “At a minimum,” the letter says, “U.S. manufacturers will have no option but to become embroiled with geopolitically troubling suppliers.” 

A coalition of over 3,000 auto dealers in all 50 states composed an open letter to President Biden, asking him to “tap the breaks” on his EV push. “These [electric] vehicles are ideal for many people,” they wrote, “and we believe their appeal will grow over time.” The letter went on to say that, although “there was a lot of hope and hype about EVs” last year, now the BEVs are “stacking up on our lots” due to lessened enthusiasm by the consumer. Even with price cuts and incentives from both the car manufacturers and the government, the EVS “are not selling nearly as fast as they are arriving at our dealerships.”

The letter also noted that the EV industry faces issues such as insufficient charging infrastructure, energy grid instability, and a lack of a reliable mineral supply for EV batteries, which puts people off buying these vehicles. The unreliability of the U.S.’s mineral supply could also increase the country’s reliance on China, which currently dominates this market. 

The Biden administration argues that the boost in fuel efficiency, prompted by these new fuel standards, would help combat climate change and save Americans money. The CAFE standards would require that passenger cars improve fuel efficiency by 2% and light trucks by 4%, beginning in 2027. Pick-up trucks and work vans would have to boost fuel efficiency by 10% each year, starting in 2030. 

Brenda Goldstein

Brenda Goldstein is a published journalist of over 20 years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

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