Skip to content
U.S. National Debt:

Weekly Column: Fighting To Preserve Idahoans' Access To Affordable Vehicles

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Idahoans deserve access to affordable, reliable vehicles fueled by American-made energy products.  However, the Biden Administration’s proposed vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards would go too far—restricting affordable choices for families and pushing our country toward greater dependence on China. 

The Biden Administration put forward two proposals threatening the affordability and availability of vehicle options for American families: 1) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the most aggressive tailpipe emissions proposal ever crafted; and 2) the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed fuel economy standards that would require automakers to more than double average fleet-wide fuel economy in less than 10 years.  These proposals would essentially mandate the mass production of electric vehicles (EVs) and a phase out of gas-powered cars and trucks.

But, the standards are unrealistic and likely unachievable.  China currently controls a majority of the production capacity of EV batteries, as well as the processing and refining capacity of the critical minerals needed for the batteries.  The EV mandates also ignore the reality that EVs are not a practical option for most Americans, due to their higher sticker prices and insurance premiums, shorter average driving ranges, limited access to charging stations and other challenges.  The average price of an EV remains substantially higher than that of a gas-powered vehicle, even with significant taxpayer-funded subsidies, and the average household income for an EV owner is over $100,000, which equates to about only 31 percent of U.S. households. 

Further, an EV-focused approach limits access to vehicles and fuel options that would better meet consumer needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  EVs may not emit at the tailpipe, but they still have a carbon footprint.  A realistic, technology-neutral approach, taking into account the full lifecycle emissions of both the vehicle and fuel, would more effectively address greenhouse gas emissions while preserving consumer choice. 

In response, I am taking a number of steps to stop the Administration’s EV mandates and push for a more sensible approach:

  • I introduced the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act, also co-sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), that would prohibit the EPA from moving forward with its proposed emissions rule or any future rules that would limit availability of new motor vehicles based on that vehicle’s engine type.  In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of this legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), and I am continuing to push for Senate passage.
  • I requested Senate and House Leadership include language in government funding legislation to prevent the EV mandates.  One of the requests concludes, “Federal agencies should not be working together to force Americans into driving expensive and impractical electric vehicles largely dependent on China’s manufacturing base.  Similarly, we should not be dependent upon energy created by our global adversaries; these autos should be powered by American energy.  Americans should keep the ability to choose the vehicle that best fits their needs and that they can afford.”
  • I led Senators and Representatives in urging the Biden Administration to immediately withdraw and reissue better standards.  We wrote, “NHTSA must stop its attempt to regulate gas-powered vehicles out of the market and force EVs onto buyers.  Instead, NHTSA should put forward standards that preserve Americans’ freedom to choose a vehicle that best meets their needs.”

I support a free market approach to the production of EVs for those who choose to drive them, but an EV mandate when U.S. production, access to needed minerals and our infrastructure cannot back it is the wrong way to go.  I will continue pushing for a more sensible approach for Idahoans.

# # #