A growing world is going to require more energy and a diverse slate of fuels to power growing transportation demands. AFPM supports efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation through technology-neutral policies capable of meeting consumer needs while protecting U.S. energy and national security. Unfortunately, the Biden administration, in partnership with California, is overseeing a whole-of-government campaign to ban new gas, diesel and flex fuel vehicles in the United States. This agenda—spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT)—is bad for Americans, bad for our economy and threatens our national security.  

Neither EPA nor DOT has Congressional authority to regulate internal combustion engine vehicles out of the U.S. market, but their policy proposals are charging toward that very end. And the American people know little to nothing about it, even though their opposition to gas car bans and electric vehicle mandates is clear.

 

The big 3 government policies designed to limit access to gas cars

The federal government’s efforts can be summed up in three major policy proposals:

EPA’s light duty vehicle proposal

What the policy does: EPA’s proposal, which could become final in the next few weeks, would set tailpipe emissions standards for passenger vehicles that are so stringent automakers will have to rely primarily on battery electric vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen vehicles to meet them. Even plug-in hybrid vehicles on their own would not be able to meet EPA’s standard in 2032. EPA’s passenger vehicle proposal would take effect very soon, starting with model year 2027 vehicles. The proposal ends with model year 2032, at which point EPA says compliance could require roughly 70% of new car sales to be electric. The Agency’s proposals for later years will likely continue the trend until gas cars and trucks are eliminated from the market.   

Why AFPM is concerned. EPA’s proposal ignores every category of emissions, other than those from the vehicle tailpipe. That means there is no consideration of emissions associated with making, operating and recycling vehicles and their batteries, or accounting for the benefits provided by liquid transportation fuels. This means the EPA standards would treat a giant electric SUV with a several-thousand-pound battery—even if it’s charged on a coal-fired grid—more favorably than a small hybrid or an advanced internal combustion engine running on lower carbon intensity liquid fuels.  

In addition to the imbalance in evaluating environmental performance, EPA’s standards would trade American energy security, made possible by American-made, American-grown fuels, for much greater dependence on a battery and mineral supply chain dominated by China.  
 
This policy will have very real consequences that cannot be undone even if there’s buyers’ remorse down the line: 

  • If these standards take effect as proposed, consumers will not be able to access new gas, diesel or flex fuel vehicles in coming years the way they can today.  
  • Automakers will have to reduce the availability of internal combustion engine vehicles and continue inflating their costs in the meantime to cover their losses on EVs.
  • Should refineries close and EPA’s policy ends up being unworkable—either because consumers don’t want to buy an EV, the grid isn’t prepared or China cuts off supplies of critical minerals—a permanent loss of refineries and refinery jobs would sacrifice our country’s ability to produce essential liquid fuels for consumers, along with our energy and economic security. 

Additional reading:  

DOT’s CAFE Standards

What the policy does: The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards proposed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration under DOT are the other side of the coin to EPA’s light duty vehicle proposal. DOT’s policy proposal uses a different metric—average miles per gallon for the new vehicle fleet—to arrive at the same end game as EPA: eliminating most new gas, diesel, flex fuel and traditional hybrid vehicles by 2032.  

The CAFE Standards proposed by the Biden administration are so severe they can only be met if the new vehicle fleet is primarily composed of cars and trucks that run on electrons rather than gallons. Similar to EPA’s proposal, DOT’s CAFE standards are not “tech neutral.” The standards are set so high they are very clearly aimed at eliminating internal combustion vehicles from the market. This goes against Congress’s direction to the DOT to ensure CAFE standards are ambitious but still “feasible” for internal combustion engine vehicles (cars and trucks that actually operate in terms of miles per gallon).  

DOT’s CAFE proposal, like EPA’s proposal, would require automakers to eliminate much of their new gas, diesel and flex fuel vehicle offerings, leaving consumers with limited options that may not meet their needs.  

Additional reading: 

EPA’s pending approval of California’s vehicle bans

What the policy does: The State of California in 2022 finalized regulations (Advanced Clean Cars II or ACC II) that would fully ban sales of new gasoline, diesel, flex fuel and traditional hybrid vehicles by 2035. California’s new ban would begin phasing in with model year 2026 vehicles and become more aggressive every year until 100% of new car sales in California meet the state’s definition of a “zero emission vehicle.” The one barrier to California’s plan is the federal government. California has to get federal authorization from President Biden’s EPA, in the form of a Clean Air Act waiver, to enact its ban.  

If EPA grants California a waiver, millions of Americans—including millions outside California—will lose the option to buy the car or truck THEY want. That’s because nearly 15 states, covering close to 35% of the U.S. population, have already adopted or signaled their intention to adopt California’s ban as their own. These decisions are often being made behind closed doors via state agencies and gubernatorial directives rather than publicly through state legislatures or popular votes.  

It is up to the Biden administration whether one “super state,” California, gets to ban sales of new gas cars for half the country and whether California’s policies will be allowed to continue threatening jobs in places like Michigan and Ohio, states that have intentionally never embraced California’s vehicle extremism.  

Additional reading: 

 

There’s a better way than banning gas cars

AFPM believes we have to work together to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation and improve vehicle performance and efficiency for consumers. Our members are doing that work. And unlike the Biden administration’s big three proposals, we believe successful, consumer-first policies must encourage real competition among all vehicle technologies and powertrains, including American-made, American-grown fuels. We can reduce emissions faster, more affordably and without trading away our energy security if our federal policies allow liquid-fuel-powered vehicles and hybrids to compete alongside electric vehicles in a lower-carbon-intensity transportation fleet.