The dirty truth about Biden's electric future

Last year, President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency proposed a 56 percent reduction in new vehicle emissions by 2032. The goal of course was to force automakers, and by extension the American public, to adopt electric cars at a breakneck pace: President Biden wanted 60% of new vehicles produced to be electric by 2030.

But then reality set in. Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin — all these companies are actually scaling back their EV releases, and the Biden administration has started to hit the brakes.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a new tailpipe emissions rule that slows down the original timeline. The EPA’s revised standard responds to an undeniable trend: EV production and sales are decelerating as Americans realize not just their high cost, but also the dirty truth behind this “clean” alternative to traditional vehicles.

The Biden administration says that, because of electric vehicles, “the future of American transportation is on track to be cleaner, safer, more affordable, and more reliable than ever before.”

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 Additional infrastructure needed to meet electric vehicle demands Video

But the production of EV batteries requires a massive amount of electricity, usually produced by generators that burn fossil fuels. The manufacturing of EVs produces at least 60 percent more carbon emissions than that of gas-powered cars. EVs start their lives with carbon debt.

The extra weight of heavy batteries also quickly wears down an EV’s tires as it drives, which means they aren’t “emissions free.” In fact, one study found that electric cars emitted about a quarter more particulate matter than hybrid vehicles thanks to the added weight.

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Administration activists aren’t just wrong about the environmental benefits of EVs. They’re also wrong about their performance. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg claimed that “we see the superiority of EVs in terms of performance, not just in terms of climate.”

But we all heard about EVs malfunctioning this winter. Freezing temperatures — and hot temperatures — drain batteries and reduce driving range, leaving stranded drivers helpless. Even in normal weather, EVs have been plagued with glitches. A Consumer Reports survey even found that new EVs have 79 percent more problems than internal-combustion cars.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg looks on as President Joe Biden speaks at an announcement of new airline regulations in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on May 08, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

These performance problems create safety issues as well. In January, the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska, conducted EV crash tests. They found that EVs have 20 to 50 percent more impact when crashing into a roadside barrier. The extra weight on an EV means that when accidents occur, the damage is greater than a comparable gas car.

The administration is wrong that EVs are better for our environment. It’s wrong about their performance as well. What about the claim that electrifying our vehicle fleet will boost America’s energy independence?

President Biden said this year that “investing aggressively in electric vehicles and battery production now is important for strengthening our long-term economic security.”

The reason he gave is that 75 percent of EV battery manufacturing is done in China. In his words, “for some battery components, critical materials, China controls nearly half the global production.”

Buyers just say no to electric vehicles Video

President Biden’s logic is severely flawed. If we force electric vehicle adoption now, we’ll just increase China’s dominance in sourcing and manufacturing. A senior research scientist at MIT admitted that, when it comes to EVs, “we still are going to be dependent on China for many, many years.”

These so-called “clean” cars also use dirty manufacturing methods, including child labor and unsafe working conditions.

The Biden administration is sending millions of dollars to Congo to support cobalt mining for EV batteries. A few years ago, human rights groups investigated Congo’s mining sector. They found it full of young children working in hand-dug tunnels that often collapse, burying kids alive. One Congolese mining expert said it best — “How can you base a green revolution on trashing Congolese environment and exploiting Congolese workers?”

If the Biden administration continues pushing an electrified vehicle fleet as quickly as it is now, environmental, performance, and human rights issues will go unresolved. That’s the danger of government mandates — consumer choice can’t compel manufacturers to do what’s best for the American people. If the market determines the adoption rate rather than the federal government, there will be more time address these issues.

The administration is spearheading a reckless push toward an electric future, one with a host of negative consequences. If they have integrity, they’ll come clean about the dirty truth, including the EV record on environmental problems, safety risks, and human rights abuses. And if they have good judgment, they’ll tap the brakes on this climate crusade and let the market take its course.

Republican Deb Fischer serves as the senior United States senator from Nebraska.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which is responsible for nuclear and strategic forces, arms control, and nonproliferation programs.

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