An unlikely coalition is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) revised fuel economy rules.
At issue is a revised fleetwide. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard of 55 miles per gallon in model year 2026. The shortened timeline for the much higher fuel economy forces automakers to reduce their fleets’ carbon dioxide emissions by 22.6 percent more than previous rules required.
Sixteen states, plus groups representing the fossil fuel and ethanol industries in 15 states, are challenging the Biden EPA’s emissions rules. They argue the EPA’s new standards effectively mandate a national transition from internal combustion powered vehicles to electric vehicles starting in 2026.
Farmers, Drillers, Attorneys General
A mix of corn and soybean growers associations from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota joined with Diamond Alternative Energy in one of the lawsuits filed to block the EPA’s new rules.
In addition, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit on behalf of Texas, joined by the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah. Arizona filed a separate lawsuit to block the rules.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), along with additional petitioners such as the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, a nationwide coalition of 39 associations representing the oil and gas industry, also filed a lawsuit to block the new standards.
Essentially an EV Mandate
The lawsuit filed by representatives of various states’ biofuel associations argues the new standard is an unauthorized de facto mandate forcing people to use electric vehicles.
“Through the final rule, EPA seeks to unilaterally alter the transportation mix in the United States, without congressional authorization and without adequately considering the vast greenhouse gas reduction benefits provided by renewable fuels,” the complaint states.
CEI and its co-petitioners make a similar argument in their filing by lead attorney Devin Watkins, saying the rules exceed the agency’s authority.
“EPA is trying to transform the motor vehicle market from gas-powered to electric vehicles by making gas-powered cars more expensive,” Watkins’ petition states.
Ambitious or Unworkable?
The EPA’s new standard and timeline are unrealistic because the mass adoption of electric vehicles and construction of the infrastructure needed to support and power them won’t magically appear overnight, says Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, which co-publishes Environment & Climate News.
“It’s vital to remember that President Joe Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and other climate-focused activists aren’t talking about just replacing current fossil fuel vehicle use or electricity generation,” said Driessen. “They also want to convert home and office heating, cooking, and water heating to electricity; convert factories from coal and gas to running on wind- and solar-generated electricity; and have massive battery modules as backup power for windless, sunless days.
“That means nearly doubling existing U.S. electricity generation, and doing all of it with intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent power generation systems,” said Driessen. “It means millions of onshore and offshore wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of 1,000-pound battery modules, and thousands of new transformers, covering tens of millions of acres, all powered by wind and sunshine, and all connected via thousands of miles of new transmission lines to power users all across America.”
‘It Is a Pipedream’
Electrifying the transportation system and in fact the entire U.S. economy is a fool’s errand, doomed to fail while placing an unnecessary burden on the public, says Driessen.
“They expect, hope, and fantasize this will somehow work, that a massively stressed power grid never built or tested before will be able to handle huge, sudden electricity surges and cutoffs due to wind and sunlight cooperating with demand only incidentally, failing minutes, hours, or days at a time and crashing repeatedly and catastrophically,” said Driessen.
“It is a pipedream that has failed everywhere it’s been tried on much tinier scales than what they intend to impose on us,” said Driessen. “Think of Texas two winters ago, and South Australia a few years ago, multiplied a thousand times over. We’re going to be asked to accept having electricity for every aspect of our industry, hospitals, and lives, when it’s available instead of when we need it.”
There is no way the United States can get the needed raw materials and do the infrastructure transformation required by the EPA’s and other agencies’ new rules implementing Biden’s “whole of government approach” to fighting climate change, says Driessen.
“Just getting the metals, minerals, plastics, concrete, and other raw materials to create this system will take mining at scales unprecedented in human history,” said Driessen. “Team Biden seems to think this will just happen, under a government-mandated program you could call Materials Acquisition for Global Industrial Change, abbreviated MAGIC.
“This new, unworkable system would totally bankrupt America,” said Driessen. “Energy analyst David Wojick, Ph.D. calculates that building a battery system to back up just New York City’s current peak electricity needs, not counting new electric cars or future growth, for one week of no wind or sunshine would cost $3 trillion! For all of New York State, it would cost $8 trillion. And that’s just New York.”
Kevin Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Arlington, Texas.