September 1, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: The Reality of Electric Vehicles

September 1, 2023

Out-of-touch Washington, D.C. bureaucrats are trying to impose their preferences on the entire country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced burdensome new emissions requirements on American-made vehicles, including both light cars and heavy-duty trucks. These standards require up to two-thirds of new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to be electric vehicles (EVs) in just eight years. That’s practically an EV mandate. These mandates will increase costs for not just American drivers, but also every American consumer and business.

The EPA’s attempt to force a rapid transition to EVs is setting our energy and transportation infrastructure up to fail. It disregards the way of life in rural parts of our country. It eliminates consumer choice. It stifles private-sector innovation in favor of big government regulation. All of this will cause prices on everyday goods and services to increase. As businesses struggle to keep up with increased production and operating costs, customers will be forced to pay more as well.

To fight this, I will be co-introducing Congressional Review Act legislation to overturn this detached-from-reality rule. I also co-introduced the Flex Fuel Fairness Act to ensure Nebraska consumers maintain choice in what vehicle they want to purchase. I will also continue advocating for the proven solution of biofuels that save consumers money at the pump, clean our environment, and support American energy independence. We also need to make sure our fellow Americans know the truth about what this would mean for our country, our state, and our people. That’s why this week, I hosted stakeholders from across Nebraska and policy experts from across the country to share the reality of Biden’s EV mandate. We discussed the realities of EVs and the significant problems this burdensome mandate would create or exacerbate.

One of the primary dangers of a forced, rapid transition to EVs is the strain it would place on our power grid. We lack the generation capacity to handle the increased demand caused by a switch to EVs. An American Transportation Research Institute study found that full electrification of the U.S. vehicle fleet would utilize 40% of our current electric generation capacity. Some states would need to increase their electricity generation capacity by as much as 60% to meet the demand. All this, while President Biden and the EPA attack American energy production at every turn. They can’t have it both ways. Without increased baseload power generation, this EV mandate will lead to rolling blackouts and increased energy prices for American families and businesses. That’s unacceptable.

Another challenge of a forced switch to EVs is the lack of charging infrastructure, especially in rural areas. Many Nebraska communities are hundreds of miles from the nearest charging station. In northern Nebraska, a Department of Energy map shows not a single EV charger for 340 miles of U.S. Highway 20 from Allen to Hay Springs. Charging speeds will also need to improve dramatically. It’s not workable for a truck hauling cattle to spend hours at a charging station in the summer heat instead of 10 minutes at a gas station.

EVs are also unaffordable for too many people. One of the experts from the Breakthrough Institute at my event this week shared data revealing the average low- and middle-income families spend approximately $12,000 to purchase a vehicle. The average price of an EV was over $65,000 last year. That’s not only significantly more than families are spending on a vehicle, it’s also $10,000 more than the average Nebraska worker makes in an entire year. 

The story is the same for battery-electric heavy trucks. According to the American Trucking Association, a new, traditional long-haul tractor typically costs between $180,000-$200,000. A battery-electric version costs nearly $480,000. This cost difference will likely push smaller carriers that can’t afford the increased costs out of business. It will also make the products we consume more expensive as the cost to transport them increases. As businesses struggle to keep up, those costs will again be passed on to consumers. 

EV mandates will also increase our dependence on adversaries like the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PRC generally controls around 80% of the world’s production of rare earth elements needed to make EVs, including graphite and neodymium. America lacks the domestic production to handle a rapid increase in demand for these minerals. At a time of rising threats around the world, America should be focused on policies that reduce, not increase, dependence on our adversaries.

I will continue to sound the alarm on the dangers of Biden’s reckless policies both in Washington and here at home in Nebraska. Only by raising our voices together will we be able to fight these radical, detached-from-reality mandates.