In hopes of shoring up its aggressive anti-fossil-fuel policy agenda against a possible elec­toral loss this November, the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion is rush­ing to finalize as many regu­la­tory man­dates as it can before the start of the Con­gres­sional Review Act’s “look­back win­dow”—the critical period near the end of an admin­is­tra­tion when newly issued agency rules become sub­ject to special legis­lative pro­ce­dures that allow them to be more readily over­turned by the next Con­gress and a new Presi­dent.

In this floodtide of final rules, perhaps the most egregious and far reach­ing are the two tailpipe emissions regu­la­tions recently issued by the Environ­mental Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA)—also known as EPA’s electric vehicle, or EV, man­dates.

With these mandates, EPA claims virtually uncon­strained power to dic­tate the extent and pace of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Nation’s auto­motive sector, with­out any regard for the con­sti­tu­tional struc­tures and demo­cratic processes that are sup­posed to govern policy­making on matters of such vast eco­nomic and political sig­nifi­cance.

The first of the tailpipe rules covers all model year 2027 and later light- and medium-duty cars and trucks in the United States, including pas­senger cars, light trucks (pickups, SUVs, cross­overs, mini­vans), and medium-duty trucks (such as larger pickups and panel vans). The second rule covers new heavy-duty com­mer­cial work trucks and buses.

Together, these rules are designed to choke off the U.S. market for gasoline and diesel fuels by coercing auto­makers and truck manu­fac­turers to con­vert more and more of their pro­duc­tion from internal-com­bus­tion-engine (ICE) vehicles to battery-pow­ered cars and trucks and to do so at a far faster rate than cus­to­mer demand could ever sup­port.

How do the rules do this?

First, they ratchet down the tail­pipe emis­sions limits for car­bon diox­ide and for the tradi­tional criteria and other pollu­tants asso­ciated with smog to levels so strin­gent that gas- and diesel-powered vehicles can’t possibly meet them.

EPA then applies the emissions limits to manu­facturers on a fleet­wide average basis and reduces these averages each model year at a rate care­fully calculated to achieve the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion’s desired over­all per­centage mix of EVs in the U.S. car and truck fleets.

EPA projects that under these regulations, by model year 2032, 63 per­cent of new pas­senger cars sold in the U.S. will be EVs and another 10 per­cent will be plug-in hybrids; 52 per­cent of new light- and medium-duty trucks will be EVs and 14 per­cent plug-in hybrids; and from 14 to 67 percent of new heavy-duty trucks (depend­ing on size, function, and con­figura­tion) will be zero emis­sion.

For comparison, those percentages today are all in the single digits.

Thus, EPA is out to engineer a seismic trans­for­ma­tion of America’s entire auto­mo­tive sector.

The Clean Air Act—the supposed source of authority for these rules—has never been inter­preted to authorize such a trans­for­ma­tion and hasn’t pre­viously been applied this way.

This scheme is very similar to the Clean Power Plan struck down by the Supreme Court under “major questions doctrine” analysis in West Vir­ginia v. EPA.

There, EPA was trying to reduce carbon dioxide emis­sions by forcing a shift in the Nation’s elec­tricity pro­duc­tion from coal plants to wind and solar. The Court held that no part of the Clean Air Act gave EPA license to “restruc­ture” the entire electricity market through “trans­for­ma­tive” regulations. In the absence of a clear and specific dele­ga­tion of authority by statute, the Court assumes that Con­gress has reserved the power to decide the “con­se­quential trade­offs” involved in such “vital considerations of national policy.”

The same goes for the EV man­dates, the con­se­quences of which for the American people will be stag­ger­ing.

The price of all new vehicles will rise dramatically because of EPA’s rules, and America’s families will lose many of their favorite options at the dealership. Lower-income and rural Americans will be stuck driving older and older used vehicles, kept on the road with parts scrounged from the junkyard.

And that’s a terrible thing. Statistics confirm that older cars are far less safe in acci­dents than newer models, so high­way deaths and injuries will definitely climb under EPA’s rules.

Countless jobs will be lost in the U.S. auto industry, too, while employ­ment will continue to surge in China, as the U.S. becomes more dependent on China for the pro­duc­tion of critical minerals and other inputs needed for EVs—increasing America’s stra­tegic vul­ner­ability.

Further, any rapid nation­wide transition to electric cars and trucks will put a tre­men­dous strain on our fragile electric grid and require a huge increase in electricity pro­duc­tion, just as EPA is attempt­ing to shut down fossil-fuel power plants. Elec­tricity prices, caught in this squeeze, will inevitably spike for all Americans.

And there’s no doubt the U.S. trucking industry will be clobbered. One industry study estimates that around $1 trillion in infra­struc­ture invest­ment will be needed to support the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of com­mercial truck­ing in America. As for the trucks them­selves, zero-emis­sion big rigs are more than twice as expen­sive as new diesel rigs to purchase and have much greater oper­ating costs. Inevitably, many truck­ing com­panies will be forced out of business, and the price of shipping for all goods will rise sharply throughout the U.S. economy.

At the same time, EPA’s scheme will have no mean­ing­ful effect on glo­bal climate or tem­per­a­tures. That’s because, among other things, China’s pro­duc­tion of energy from coal and its annual carbon dioxide emissions will just keep climb­ing higher and higher.

Indeed, the absence of real climate bene­fits from these aggressive tail­pipe rules suggests that the driving pur­pose behind them is not so much to save the planet as to cripple the fossil-fuel industry and stifle America’s love of the auto­mobile.

Of course, it is the American people who will ulti­mately bear the cost of these puni­tive policy choices.

The issues raised by the EV man­dates involve matters of life, liberty, and pro­sperity, matters that are fun­da­men­tally poli­tical in nature. Under our con­sti­tu­tional republic, it is for Con­gress, and Congress alone, to weigh the competing interests at stake in these matters and to make the monu­men­tal deci­sions that EPA now pre­sumes to take upon itself.

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