April 14, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Mandate Madness

April 14, 2023

This week, President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced burdensome new emissions requirements on American-made vehicles. By requiring up to two-thirds of cars and trucks in the U.S. to be electric in just eight years, they are one step closer to their goal of making gas-powered vehicles obsolete.

While we all care for our environment, this tone-deaf new mandate punishes already-burdened American drivers, families, and businesses, ignores the realities of our infrastructure, and has the potential to counteract intended environmental benefits.

For many Americans in driving states like Nebraska, an electric vehicle (EV) just doesn’t make sense.

What out-of-touch liberals demanding we all buy EVs choose to ignore is the average price of an EV was over $65,000 last year. That’s more than the annual household income of nearly half of all American families. Mandates like this limit the choices available to hardworking Americans already struggling under stubbornly high inflation.

These same individuals forget that a massive switch to EVs poses complex logistical challenges that we have yet to address as a nation, including an insufficient number of chargers and unequal coverage in rural areas. Many Nebraska communities are hundreds of miles from the nearest charging station. In northern Nebraska, for example, President Biden’s own Department of Energy map shows not a single EV charger on a 340 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 20 from Allen to Hay Springs.

Biden’s mandate will also drive up prices of all new vehicles. Many drivers priced out of the new vehicle market will be forced to keep or purchase older vehicles that continue to emit more pollutants longer. The result will likely counteract the Biden administration’s goals to reduce these emissions.

The Biden administration’s choice to move forward with this mandate despite addressing these challenges proves they are putting politics above the best interest of Americans.

You don’t need to be cynical to believe this. Look at California where they’ve adopted an even more radical mandate that explicitly aims to completely eliminate gas-powered cars by 2035. The very same week these mandates were announced, however, California’s Democrat governor told Californians who currently own EVs not to charge them in the afternoon because the electric grid couldn’t handle the increased demand without threatening even more rolling blackouts.

The kind of tenfold increase in EVs Biden is suggesting would place this same kind of unprecedented stress on our energy grid nationwide. The result would be catastrophic given he has kneecapped American energy production at the same time. His administration has gone after traditional power plants, cancelled lease sales, and refused to expedite permits for new construction.

This rule also increases our reliance on foreign adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the CCP controls around 80% of the world’s production of rare earth elements, including elements like graphite and neodymium that are used in EVs. President Biden’s own Defense Department concluded in 2021 that overreliance on the CCP “creates risk of disruption and politicized trade practices”, yet his bureaucrats are charging forward with a mandate that will increase that risk. This is unacceptable and we must change course.

We need balanced, market-driven solutions that protect our pocketbooks, our energy infrastructure, and our planet. Fortunately, Nebraska has a home-grown solution that does all three of those things: biofuels. I frequently remind my colleagues that ethanol saves consumers money at the pump, helps clean the environment, and reduces our dependence on foreign adversaries. Democrats must stop trying to use big government regulations to force their politics on the American people.

Biden’s rule goes against our free-market values and restricts individual freedom, shrugs off the higher cost of EVs while families are struggling, ignores supply chain challenges, threatens our power infrastructure, makes us more reliant on the CCP, and risks even higher emissions. As your U.S. Senator, I vigorously oppose tone-deaf mandates like this that impose unnecessary and impractical burdens on Nebraskans.

Along with Senator Deb Fischer and the rest of my colleagues in the Nebraska delegation, my team and I are here to serve you. Contact my team and I anytime by phone at 202-224-4224, on my website www.ricketts.senate.gov, or via email contactricke@ricketts.senate.gov. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.