(The Center Square) – Will the Biden administration’s latest energy regulations force Americans out of gas vehicles and into more expensive electric cars? Lawmakers in the U.S. House held a hearing Wednesday tackling that key question.
The hearing, held by the Oversight Committee’s Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, focused on newly proposed Environmental Protection Agency tailpipe emission rules that the federal agency itself called “ambitious.”
The EPA projects the proposed regulation would mean that fully electric vehicles make up two thirds of all new “light duty” and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales by 2032.
The EPA, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said in a news release that the rules would improve air quality and would avoid “nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions.” The rule changes still faces a lengthy public comment and approval process as well as avoiding an override from Congress after it is implemented.
“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.
The rule proposal was a focal point of scrutiny from Republicans during the hearing Wednesday.
“The rules would require an incredibly rapid EV transition that industry, the grid, and consumer demand cannot keep pace with,” U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, who chairs the subcommittee, said during the hearing. “Further, the critical mineral supply chain is already under stress. Does EPA even know whether there is enough raw material to meet its proposed standards?”
Fallon pointed out he does not oppose electric vehicles, only the federal effort to rapidly replace gas vehicles with them via government regulation. He also said EPA officials were invited to testify but declined.
“We hope this hearing will sound an alarm about the costs these two rules would inflict on American consumers, American manufacturers, the American economy, and American national security,” Fallon said.
Some witnesses pushed back against the EPA’s claims and poked holes in the assumptions about electric vehicles.
“The EPA defines EVs as zero-emission vehicles. However, EVs are not truly zero-emission vehicles,” Josh Roe, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, said during his testimony. “While they do not have a tailpipe, you still need to account for the emissions that come from the power grid. The U.S. power grid is currently 60% powered by coal and natural gas. Current and proposed EPA rules do not account for these upstream emissions when calculating compliance, let alone the additional emissions and toxic pollution generated by mining rare earth minerals around the world.”
Roe pointed to the added cost for Americans, especially farmers and those in rural areas.
“EVs are $10,000-25,000 more expensive than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles, placing them out of reach for many consumers including those in rural America where median incomes are lower than that of urban areas,” he said.
Critics say the new rule is the latest in what they call the Biden administration’s sustained war on American energy and fossil fuel companies. They point to Biden’s discouragement of pipeline investment and oil permitting while simultaneously calling on other nations to produce more oil.
“The administration is on a whole-of-government mission to address climate change, no matter the law or the choices of consumers,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told The Center Square, adding that the rule changes would “force everyone into electric vehicles.”
The Biden administration is standing by the rules, one of several changes to implement a more progressive, green agenda at the federal level.
“These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness,” Regan said.