Government Fiat Will Not Make Electric Cars Viable
The unelected bureaucrats in the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced a plan to wave their magic regulatory wand. These obviously “woke” EPA global-warming ideologues aim to mandate new tailgate emission standards that require two-thirds of all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States by 2032 to be electric.
On April 8, 2023, the New York Times, in a story that appeared to be an obvious trial balloon, published the news that the EPA was planning to implement “the most stringent auto pollution limits in the world, designed to ensure that all-electric cars make up as much as 67 percent of the passenger vehicles sold in the country by 2032.” The source for the story was the typical unnamed “according to two people familiar with the matter.” Clearly, the Biden administration and the newspaper expected push-back, given that the New York Times article announcing the news also cited industry statistics indicating electric vehicle (EV) sales still languish under 6 percent of total passenger vehicles sold in the United States.
Like Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (remember “shovel-ready jobs”?), Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act is a green-energy mandate masquerading as an economic stimulus package. On September 4, 2009, then-Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) had finalized a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, LLC. In that announcement, Biden touted Solyndra as a green energy company that manufactured “innovative cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels that provide clean, renewable energy.” At the company’s height of hype, the MIT Technology Review lauded Solyndra as one of the fifty most innovative companies globally.
President Obama visited Solyndra’s solar panel manufacturing plant at the company’s headquarters in Fremont, California, on May 26, 2010. On September 6, 2011, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, suspended operations at its headquarters, and laid off 1,100 workers. Solyndra went bankrupt despite $535 million in federal loan guarantees and more than $700 million in venture capital funding. The lesson is that “wishing doesn’t make it so.” The ideology of green renewable energy and the economic fact-based reality do not match up.
Image: Charging an electric car by rawpixel.com.
The legislative and regulatory effort the federal government has exerted to will renewable energy into being an economically viable alternative to hydrocarbon fuels is staggering. A report issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on February 10, 2023, documented that since 2005, Congress has passed several major energy laws:
- the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005; P.L. 109-58);
- the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140);
- the Energy Improvement and Extension Act (EIEA), enacted as Division B of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA; P.L. 110-343);
- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5);
- the Energy Act of 2020 (Division Z of P.L. 116-260);
- the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA; P.L. 117-58), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and
- a budget reconciliation measure commonly referred to as the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” (IRA; P.L. 116-169).
The CRS report documented that myriad federal agencies fund renewable energy programs, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Small Business Administration (SBA), Fannie Mae, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Department of Veteran Affairs.
Yet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy sources (i.e., predominately solar and wind power) accounted for only about 12.4 percent of all energy consumed in the United States in 2021, and that’s despite the billions of taxpayer dollars Obama and Biden have spent trying to shift the country to electric.
Renewable energy is an ever-increasing percentage of total energy usage only in the fiction of economic projections. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that renewable energy will generate 35 percent of global power by 2025. The EIA projects that renewable energy will supply 44 percent of all U.S. electricity by 2050.
On April 12, 2023, the Wall Street Journal editorial board blasted the EPA for allowing its ideological fervor to exceed its regulatory authority. “The U.S. auto industry is nominally still privately owned, but it is slowly becoming a state-directed utility,” the editorial began. “The EPA is using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate tailpipe pollutants. But make no mistake this isn’t about clean air. This is about forcing auto makers to produce more EVs that consumers will have no choice but to buy since there will be few gas-powered vehicles left.”
The editorial noted that an EIA study released on March 16, 2023, projected that, even with Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) subsidies, EVs will make up only 15 percent of vehicle sales in 2030 and 19 percent by 2050. Journalist Daniel Greenfield estimated that the EPA’s new tailpipe emission regulations would bar most Americans (53 percent) from buying cars. He wrote:
Even the cheapest electric cars, which are still far more expensive than their real car counterparts and are just one battery problem away from turning into mostly unusable junk, are out of the price range of the majority of Americans who need an income of $80,000 to make an EV auto loan work. That’s fine in Washington, D.C., where the median income of $83,567 is the highest in the nation, but will entirely price much of the country out of the new car market.
Greenfield pointed out that approximately 53 percent of Americans earn less than $75,000. “Some of the 16 percent who earn from $50,000 to $75,000 may be able to make an electric vehicle purchase work if they squeeze, cut back on food and clothes for the kids, but the remaining 37 percent will be completely locked out,” he wrote.
On March 25, 2023, the European Union reached an agreement with Germany to back off its previously proclaimed ban on internal combustion engines (ICE), initially proposed to start in 2035. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the EPA’s magic-wand regulatory move is the mainstream media’s failure to question its underlying climate alarmist assumption.
With China and India ramping up their use of oil and coal, why would we assume upping EV production in the U.S. would positively affect global ambitions to achieve Net Zero Emission (NZE) by 2050? Outside of IPCC warnings that we need to return to pre-industrial CO2 levels to prevent catastrophic global warming (or is it climate change?), what proof is there that EVs are the solution?
On March 25, 2023, the Wall Street Journal editorial board correctly noted that EVs require rare-earth minerals “often sourced from dirty mines in China.” The editorial commented that EVs are “only as green and affordable as the electricity used to charge them. In Europe, that means coal-fired power for which consumers face a huge price owing to the costs of forcing intermittent renewables such as wind and solar into the grid.”
Since 2004, Jerome R. Corsi has published over 30 books on economics, history, and politics, including two #1 New York Times bestsellers. In 1972, he received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University. His book, The Truth About Energy, Global Warming, and Climate Change: Exposing Climate Lies in an Age of Disinformation, received highly positive reviews from prominent climate scientists. Dr. Corsi has resumed podcasting on his new website TheTruthCentral.com, which is now on the Internet in its first development phase.