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Washington Times: Rush to expand electric vehicle fleets is misguided

We need less government intervention, not more

Since our inception as a nation, our people have thrived on a free-market economy rooted in the basic principles of freedom, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. This economic prowess, however, remains threatened by the looming heavy hand of the federal government.

As we have seen time and time again, when government imposes its will on free markets, economies falter and fail, leaving hardworking families to pick up the pieces.

Under the Biden administration, the use of the government’s heavy hand has become the norm. Look no further than the concerted effort to end production of internal combustion engine vehicles and rapidly expand electric vehicle fleets.

Just this year, the administration announced its plan to have half of new vehicle sales be of electric ones by 2030. And the Environmental Protection Agency released a stringent new tailpipe emissions standard that would require nearly two-thirds of new U.S. vehicles to be electric by 2032.

These out-of-touch proposals will severely limit consumer choice and prevent American companies from producing and selling ICE vehicles.

Even more concerning, China seeks to reap the benefits from our government’s push to go fully electric. China processes two-thirds of the world’s lithium and cobalt, both essential to produce electric cars. In comparison, the United States produces only 1% of the lithium in the world.

Do we really want to be dependent on a foreign adversary to power our vehicles?

I understand the value electric vehicles bring to the table to help reduce carbon emissions, and I’ve long maintained that American people should be able to choose what kind of car they drive. But it’s become clear that the rush to expand electric vehicle fleets — which has already cost automakers billions of dollars and cut thousands of jobs — will hurt our economy and families.

In a perfect world, the flip of a switch would ensure that everyone could drive an electric vehicle. But that is a far cry from reality. With the average cost at $64,000, most American families cannot afford to make the quick transition to an electric vehicle.

And even if EV prices were suddenly slashed in half, we would still be forced to contend with the fact that such widespread adoption of electric vehicles would significantly strain our nation’s power grid.

As a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress, I recently questioned an EPA official on this issue. During the line of questioning, the official claimed that, according to estimates, the U.S. would need an energy increase of only four-tenths of 1% by 2030 and up to 4% by 2050 to support an all-electric vehicle fleet.

This directly contradicts, however, the Energy Information Administration’s reports that the U.S. would have to generate 20% to 50% more electricity to meet the demand of an all-electric vehicle fleet.

So, where is the real answer? We already know that the U.S. grapples with brownouts and blackouts every summer. Based on this information alone, it is clear we do not have the capability to keep up with current energy demands, let alone enough to power an all-electric vehicle fleet.

The state of California is a prime example. Last summer, California struggled to meet its residents’ energy needs. The state issued guidance urging residents to avoid charging electric vehicles to avert brownouts and blackouts.  

But not even last summer’s energy debacle could alter California’s course of banning internal combustion vehicles and forcing residents to transition to electric vehicles.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board voted to place strict new requirements on automakers that would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 in favor of so-called zero-emission vehicles.

To proceed with this plan, California is seeking a waiver of the Clean Air Act from the EPA. The state has acknowledged that this action will extend beyond its borders, with 17 other states bound to follow the same standards. This would make up 40% of the nation’s new car sales.

In Congress, I have been leading the effort to stop California’s waiver request to the EPA dead in its tracks. Last year, 157 of my colleagues in the House joined me in sending a letter to President Biden asking him to oppose California’s waiver request to the EPA. To date, we have received no response from the president.

More recently, I worked with Reps. John Joyce, Gus Bilirakis and Jay Obernolte on legislation — the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act — which would outright prevent the EPA from granting this waiver to California if it would lead to the ban of ICE vehicles.

Our bill has recently earned approval from the Energy and Commerce Committee, and we look forward to its passage by the House of Representatives.

It all comes down to this: We need less government intervention, not more. The federal government should never be in the business of picking winners and losers.

Instead, we should let free markets continue to flourish, which will ultimately allow Americans to make choices — and vehicle purchases — that work best for themselves and their families.

Click here to read in The Washington Times.

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