by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at National Review Online blast the Biden administration’s plan to boost electric vehicles.
The EPA announced new emissions requirements aimed at having 67 percent of cars sold in the U.S. with zero tailpipe emissions by 2032. About a year and a half ago, the Biden administration said it wanted 50 percent to meet that mark by 2030.
It’s one thing to want an outcome. It’s another to mandate it, without saying how to get there, or making it any easier to get there.
The EPA’s mandate gives carmakers freedom to meet the emissions targets in any way they see fit. On the one hand, that’s better than attempting to micromanage corporate decision-making from Washington, D.C. But on the other hand, it perfectly illustrates the progressive delusion that government can, merely by speaking, create better outcomes in the economy with no unintended consequences.
This new standard, the EPA tells us, will propel the U.S. to utopia. Four years’ worth of carbon-dioxide emissions would vanish, the average consumer would save $12,000 over the life of a vehicle, and the benefits would outweigh the costs by $1 trillion. Premature deaths, heart attacks, respiratory illness, and cancer would decline.
All that and more will occur if only the EPA publishes the right words in the Federal Register, the Biden administration wants us to believe. If the benefits are so huge and so obvious, no government mandate would be necessary. Of course, reality is more complicated.
Environmentalists aren’t the only interest group the Biden administration has to please, and labor unions have it working at cross purposes with itself on electric-vehicle adoption. EV tax credits come with domestic-content requirements, which reveals that EV adoption isn’t quite as life-or-death as the Biden administration wants us to believe.
Another reason for the domestic-content requirements is that one of the top sources for affordable EVs right now is China. EVs are easier to manufacture than internal-combustion cars, so they are better suited to China’s less-skilled workforce. Playing into an international adversary’s comparative advantage makes for poor foreign policy.