WASHINGTON — More than 150 Republicans in the U.S. House asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan Monday to roll back the agency’s proposed emissions standards that are expected to further push the auto industry to electric vehicles.
EPA’s new emissions standards are “unworkable and impractical” and would force the auto industry into “complete vehicle electrification under the guise of mitigating climate change,” the members wrote in a letter led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
In April, EPA unveiled what it called the “strongest ever” tailpipe emissions standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles made during model years 2027 to 2032. EPA estimated the proposed changes would push electric vehicles to 67 percent of new car sales in 2032 and would prevent around 10 billion tons of carbon emissions, twice the total U.S. carbon emissions from 2022.
Environmental and consumer advocacy groups celebrated the proposed rules. But the leading auto industry advocacy group questioned whether it would be possible to meet the new goals even as automakers invest heavily in switching to EVs. EVs made up 5.8 percent of new car sales in the U.S. in 2022, according to AutoForecast Solutions LLC, and are expected to jump to nearly 9 percent this year.
The House members called the proposed rules “deliberate market manipulation to prop up EVs” and argued the shift would benefit the Chinese government because it dominates the mineral supply chain for EV batteries. They also wrote that EVs are still more expensive on average than gas-powered cars.
“Pricing is especially important, because access to a car is tied to improved economic outcomes for low-income households,” the members wrote. “Americans should not be forced into paying an excessive amount for a car they do not want and cannot afford.”
The proposed rules require dramatic reductions in emissions; they are “technology neutral” and do not require automakers to sell 67 percent electric vehicles by 2032. However, regulators expect automakers will need to ramp up EV sales to meet the new requirements. As of now, Tesla Inc. is the only automaker that would meet the 2032 standard of 82 grams per mile fleetwide.
It’s been seen as the government’s “stick” following the “carrot” offered through the Inflation Reduction Act: The law includes several subsidies that incentivize automakers to build EVs through tax credits, loans and other supports. If the proposed emissions rule becomes final, automakers could be fined for failing to meet it.
“EPA has received the letter and will review it and respond accordingly,” EPA spokesperson Shayla Powell said in a statement.
A public comment period on the proposed rules will be open through July 5, when EPA will gather comments and begin work on a final rule.