Sep 16, 2023

Options, Not Mandates, Bring the Best Outcomes

Posted Sep 16, 2023 9:00 PM

Adrian Smith

Poorly considered policy driven by ideological agendas can have devastating consequences for Americans, bringing the greatest harm to those with the least recourse when good intentions go awry. There’s always room for improvement in federal policy. However, damage is often avoidable if decision-makers simply take the time to consider the impact of their decisions upon Americans and the variety of their needs and lifestyles across our country.

This week the House considered legislation to address efforts by California and nine other states to ban the sale of gas-powered cars. In August 2022, California’s Air Resources Board adopted “zero emission” standards for all vehicles sold in the state—effectively banning the sale or use of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035.

Under federal law, states are only permitted to enact their own emissions standards for new vehicles when granted a waiver by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do so. Without an EPA waiver, new vehicles are subject to already-stringent federal emissions standards. In March of 2023, the state of California received a Clean Air Act waiver from the EPA for emissions regulations stricter than federal mandates.

Overbroad government mandates rarely make for good policy, and removing an entire line of products from the market on which the vast majority of Americans depend daily has troubling potential to harm consumers, our supply chain, and our economy. In 2021, 93.8 percent of personal and commercial vehicle registrations in the U.S. were for cars powered by gasoline or ethanol.

The measure passed by the House with my support this week, the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, would halt these efforts to misuse the EPA waiver process to ban gas-powered cars, while continuing to allow states to work with EPA to manage air pollution issues.

From increased dependance on China for critical minerals used in electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing to the overwhelming burden it would levy on our electric grid, there is no shortage of drawbacks which demonstrate EVs are not the answer for everyone. Significantly, in Nebraska nearly half of our electricity, necessary to run EVs, is generated by coal, a consideration the detractors of fossil fuels seem slow to acknowledge.

For a winning energy strategy, we must embrace an all-of-the-above approach and let consumers weigh and make the best choices for themselves and their families. The development of alternative energy sources and products which are run by them needs to be driven by innovation and the success of the best outcomes for Americans, not big government mandates.

While a candidate for president in 2020, Joe Biden promised to ignite the economy and bring Americans together. Unfortunately, his administration has repeatedly failed to deliver, prioritizing a far-left agenda over pro-growth common sense, leaving American families and taxpayers with mounting expenses. However, as a candidate, time and time again President Biden also made it clear his goal was to declare war on the fossil fuels industry—one promise he has kept. Since day one of his presidency, he has cracked down on oil and gas leases and maintained a stranglehold on American energy production. Predictably, this is reflected in the soaring prices at the pump which have marked his presidency including the current gasoline prices in Nebraska--10 percent higher than this time last year.

President Ronald Reagan once quipped, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help." Rather than crushing the options of consumers, effective lawmaking confronts and puts a stop to bad ideas. Misguided mandates and prohibitions on everything from EVs down to gas stoves is a recipe for continued supply chain difficulties and obstacles to growth. House Republicans have worked to keep our Commitment to America for an economy that’s strong with a plan to streamline permitting efficiencies, maximize production, and lower the cost of fuel and utilities. By staying true to commonsense principles, we can ensure American energy dominance, protect consumer choice, and secure better outcomes for the future.