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Biden’s highway safety pick has a long history of pushing to crack down on Americans’ appliances


Daily Caller News Foundation

President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has frequently advocated for policies intended to regulate Americans’ appliances in the name of climate goals.

Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s current acting Administrator and former University of California, Los Angeles law professor, has spoken on multiple occasions about the importance of regulating appliance use in order to curb emissions, according to several public appearances. She also supported the transportation department’s 2024-26 fuel economy standards and praised policies adopted in California to crack down on gas and diesel-fueled vehicles.

For instance, during a 2009 symposium, Carlson discussed regulating appliance use in her speech, during which she said that U.S. buildings emit 10% of the country’s emissions.

“All of these appliances obviously use electricity in order to be powered and that electricity, if it’s not from a renewable source, which most of it isn’t still today, generates greenhouse gas emissions,” she explained. “Now we could solve the problem by moving away from carbon based fuels but we’re far from doing that and it’s not clear to me that we’re ever going to do it, so in the meantime I think most people would agree that an effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to improve energy efficiency.”

She then explained that while the federal government applies standards for larger appliances such as heaters, air conditioners, washing machines and water heaters, stand standards are often set for “smaller appliances” including “CD players” and “hot tub pumps.” She praised California for being a “leader in issuing stringent appliance standards prior to federal preemption.”

As NHTSA Administrator, Carlson will have the power to propose fuel efficiency standards for newly-manufactured vehicles.

The topic of appliance regulation also came up in a 2008 article she had authored that supported a “scheme” to “raise energy prices” on consumers to force “manufacturers to increase the energy efficiency of their products.” 

“In practice, though, the same market failure that led to appliance standards in the first place — a disconnect between those who buy appliances and those who pay their long term energy costs — will likely interfere with price signals sent by a carbon cap-and-trade system,” Carlson wrote in the 2008 report. “Instead, Congress should allow California to set standards more stringent than federal law in order to encourage policy innovation that, if successful, can ultimately be exported to the rest of the country.”

In 2020, Carlson advocated for letting California “lead where it can” during a discussion on the Clean Air Act, according to a recording of the event. She said its policies regulating diesel trucks and cars “has led to extraordinary reductions in pollution” that “would not have occurred had the federal government been left on its own.”

California has some of the strictest emissions regulations in the nation, and recently voted to ban new diesel trucks by 2036, as well as phase out gas-powered cars by 2035.

“There’s a relationship that exists where California leads and then the federal government follows suit if California is successful. That’s a provision I think we should follow and keep in place with respect to climate change,” she said.

Carlson, who is currently serving as acting NHTSA Administrator, was nominated by Biden on Feb. 13. The Senate Commerce Committee received the nomination on March 27.

Tom Jones, American Accountability Foundation president, told the DCNF that her “admiration for California’s green radicalism, and the fact [that] Biden nominated her shows how out of touch they are with the needs of the American people.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Californians fled the state because of their disastrous policies that made basic living expenses nearly unaffordable, yet now these extremists want to spread their green Jihad to the rest of America, throwing working- and middle-class Americans under the bus,” Jones said. “It’s not easy for a regular American family to make a decent living in Joe Biden’s America, and by nominating Carlson, Biden is indicating in the clearest possible terms that he has no intention of making it any easier.”

Carlson also praised citizen lawsuits as being “important in holding the federal government’s feet to the fire in ensuring that national ambient air quality standards get set and get strengthened in finding the greenhouse gas emissions or pollutants under the Clear Air Act.”

Several Republican lawmakers who serve on the Senate Commerce Committee wrote a letter to Carlson on May 1 that raised concerns about “past career” and her work at the NHTSA, specifically citing her support for fuel economy standards that are currently under legal challenge.

“That rulemaking led West Virginia, Montana, and multiple other states to allege in a lawsuit that NHTSA exceeded its statutory authority in issuing those standards by impermissibly taking into consideration EVs. As chief counsel, you had a responsibility to ensure that NHTSA’s proposed regulations complied with the law,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Republican lawmakers alleged in the letter that her actions mirrored her “long career as an environmentalist without traffic safety experience” and that her role in the NHTSA is “to advance” the Biden administration’s “climate change agenda,” according to the letter.

Carlson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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