(Nick Pope, Daily Caller News Foundation) President Joe Biden’s electric vehicle (EV) push is facing significant threats from all angles this week in Congress, in courtrooms and at a union negotiating table.
The Biden administration is looking to gradually phase out internal combustion engine vehicles from the market, with a goal of having EVs make up at least 50% of all new car sales by 2030, with agencies pursuing more aggressive targets in the years following 2030. The administration’s EV push faces significant challenges in Congress, in the courts and in contract talks between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and America’s “Big Three” auto manufacturers that threaten to derail the administration’s progress in reshaping the American car market.
The House will vote Thursday on the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, which would “amend the Clean Air Act to prevent the elimination of the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles,” according to its text. California receives waivers under the Clean Air Act that allow the state to set vehicle pollution standards that are more stringent than federal ones, and 17 other states have followed California’s lead on those standards, according to The Washington Post.
The legislation would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing future waivers, and it would also force the EPA to cancel any waivers issued since January 2022 that would “directly or indirectly limit the sale or use of new motor vehicles with internal combustion engines,” according to the bill’s text.
The EPA proposed stringent tailpipe emissions standards in April that would effectively require American auto manufacturers to have their new car fleets consist of 67% EVs after model year 2032. In August 2022, California announced a ban on new gas-powered vehicle sales after 2035, a policy which eight other states have also committed to, according to CNET.
“The last thing my constituents want is another oppressive Biden administration mandate that puts a radical environmental agenda and far-left special interests above their individual freedoms,” Republican Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce, who introduced the bill, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “There is nothing more quintessentially American than the freedom of the open road, and this important legislation protects the freedom of all Americans to drive the vehicles of their choice.”
Biden’s EV push faces another challenge with the UAW’s heated contract negotiations with the “Big Three.” The union has set a deadline for a new contract that will pass at midnight Thursday; if the deadline comes and goes without a new deal, the union will likely have 150,000 of its workers go on strike.
EVs are at the heart of the UAW’s concerns in the negotiations, as the union believes that the EV future incentivized with huge subsidies for manufacturers may not serve the interests of its workers in the long-term. In June, UAW President Shawn Fain ripped the administration for “actively funding the race to the bottom with billions in public money” with its EV agenda, and the union has so far withheld its endorsement of Biden’s 2024 campaign despite its historical support for Democratic candidates.
The administration has committed $12 billion to allow manufacturers to retrofit their plants for EV production and $7.5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop a national charging network, while the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) contains $12.5 billion worth of tax credits to entice consumers into switching to an EV, according to UtilityDive. Biden has declared his intention to be “the most pro-union president” in American history, but Fain has said that “we want to see national leadership have our back on this before we make any commitments,” according to Axios.
The Biden EV agenda is also facing two significant challenges in cases that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear on Thursday, according to the Post. In Texas v. EPA, 15 Republican state attorneys general are challenging the legality of a December 2021 move by the EPA to set aggressive pollution standards for passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who leads the coalition of challenging attorneys general, has asserted that the agency is exceeding its mandate from Congress by effectively mandating that American consumers switch to EVs, according to the Post. The challengers are relying on the “major questions doctrine” and hope to successfully highlight that Congress has not given the agency express permission to pursue a new policy of such national significance, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center.
In the second case, Natural Resources Defense Council v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), several Republican-controlled states and a trade group are jointly suing NHTSA over its tailpipe emissions standards for cars manufactured between 2024 and 2026, according to E&E News. The case could cement the federal government’s ability to dictate vehicle pollution standards in the future if higher courts uphold the rules as written.