Cars are already more expensive than they were three years ago, but if the Environmental Protection Agency under President Joe Biden has its way, we’ll be pining for the good old days of 2023.
Imagine selective abortion meets “Grand Theft Auto,” as a Heritage scholar recently dubbed it. The kind of cars most Americans want to buy will be cut from the assembly line—like infants selected for elimination in the womb—because they possess too “dirty” an internal combustion engine. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
All this while poor forest management poses a more serious risk to air quality, as the Eastern Seaboard experienced this past week with the smoke from Canadian wildfires.
Newly-proposed EPA rules will mandate fewer emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other greenhouse gases for model years beginning in 2027 and stretching to 2032. By that year, carmakers will have to cut emissions from cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs by 56%.
These rules will make cars more expensive, encourage Americans to buy electric—even though electric vehicles have a shorter range—and encourage more investment in Communist China. (Fifty-six percent or more of EV batteries are produced by six Chinese corporations.)
Americans don’t have to take all this sitting down, however. The Biden administration is required by law to listen to the American people when it implements a major new rule or regulation.
Federal agencies open rules up for “notice and comment,” a process by which everyday citizens can weigh in on forthcoming rules and regulations. Agencies are required by law to read what you send in, and sometimes courts will cite these public comments, even if the government decides to go forward with the rule anyway.
This process works. Last month, the Department of Education announced that it would delay the implementation of its new Title IX rule (forcing schools to allow male athletes to compete in women’s sports) by five months—from late May to October—because it received more than 240,000 public comments on the proposed rule.
Heritage Action for America, the grassroots advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, had launched a portal to make it easy for Americans to make their voices heard on the women’s sports rule, and 15,440 Americans used the portal to comment.
Heritage Action has launched another portal to help Americans register their concerns about the EPA’s new emissions rules, and nearly 4,000 Americans have used it so far.
This rule would use the heavy hand of government to try to force Americans to buy electric vehicles, which currently represent a mere 6% of new vehicle purchases. The EPA has acknowledged that the new rules are so stringent that carmakers will have to make up to 67% of new vehicles electric in order to comply with them.
“These proposed rules effectively require an additional 10-fold sales increase [in EVs] in a mere eight years,” the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen, Hyundai, and others told Reuters. “EPA is also proposing the most stringent criteria pollutant regulations ever, premised on largely the same levels of zero emission vehicles.”
As Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Center for Energy, Climate and Environment at Heritage, recently wrote, Americans prefer gasoline-powered cars because they are more affordable. The electric version of the Ford F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in America, costs an additional $26,000 over the gasoline-powered one. Tesla’s electric vehicles start at $39,000 for a Model 3 and go up to nearly $100,000 for a Model X—quite a bit beyond most Americans’ price range.
While gas-powered cars take five or 10 minutes to refill, recharging an electric vehicle can take 45 minutes—and that does not factor in the wait if someone else gets there, first!
The transition to electric involves higher costs with fewer benefits. EVs were on average $11,981 more expensive than gas-powered cars at the end of 2022. Road trips will be harder, since EVs require longer and more frequent interruptions for charging. The transition will also empower China, as this American rival either directly makes or controls the production of the lithium and rare-earth minerals required for EV batteries.
What does all this pain actually get us? It remains unclear. Contrary to what the alarmists tell us, the science is not settled. Kevin Dayaratna, chief statistician and senior research fellow at Heritage, calculated that even completely eliminating all fossil fuels from the United States would result in less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in temperature mitigation by 2100.
Yet out-of-control wildfires can erase all these emissions gains rather quickly.
As The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted, University of California researchers calculated that wildfire emissions in 2020 alone were more than double any reductions that the state had achieved in greenhouse gas emissions from 2003 to 2019. Additionally, the wildfires generated double the greenhouse gas emissions of all the state’s power plants, coming in just behind transportation to become the state’s second largest source of emissions that year.
Another study in the journal Science estimated that burning boreal forests in North America and Eurasia in 2021 released 1.76 billion tons of CO2, nearly twice as much as global aviation that year. The fires put more than four times as much CO2 in the air as New York state’s annual emissions, and about three times as much as the Inflation Reduction Act’s projected reductions in 2030.
I grew up in the mountains of rural, bone-dry Colorado. As the son of a volunteer fireman, I spent many a summer day cutting the grass, raking, and removing the forest floor detritus that helps spread wildfires. We didn’t want to execute a controlled burn in our neighborhood, so we had to tame the forest ourselves. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it to keep your house from burning down.
Perhaps if more Canadian governments managed their forests like my father taught me to do, the East Coast of the U.S. wouldn’t have had a few days of emission-rich air that made us all fear that we were witnessing a form of Armageddon. Maybe Biden should invest more in forest management and less in trying to force millions of Americans to buy cars they don’t want.
Thankfully, Americans have a say in what our government does. You don’t have to stand idly by while Biden initiates his sly version of what one of my Heritage colleagues calls “Grand Theft Auto.”
You can voice your opposition to this regulation and send the Biden administration a message through the portal here.
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