Biden's significant investment in electric vehicles is likely to face a setback.

Biden’s significant investment in electric vehicles is likely to face a setback.

President Joe Biden’s plans for mass adoption of electric vehicles on American roads are facing obstacles due to lower-than-anticipated sales and uncertainties about the public perception of the environmentally-friendly agenda in the key state of Michigan.

According to three sources familiar with the administration’s internal discussions, his regulators are preparing to decrease the intensity of their actions.

According to three sources, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering approving a compromise regulation for car and truck pollution. This regulation may result in a slower reduction of emissions compared to the initial draft proposal released by the administration last year. As a result, electric vehicle sales may not increase as quickly as originally predicted by the EPA.

However, the reductions in emissions and predicted increase in sales of electric vehicles would occur even faster after the year 2030. By 2032, over two-thirds of newly purchased cars and light trucks in the United States would be electric, aligning with previous projections made by the agency in the previous year.

sometimes clashing demands of key constituencies he’ll need on his side in November, including green activists and organized labor — while trying to engineer a historic shift in one of the United States’ most important industries. The outcome of the debate is especially urgent in Michigan, a state where the president’s political difficulties have grown because of
Arab Americans’ anger over his policies on the war in Gaza.

A source who is knowledgeable about the administration’s plans, but did not disclose specific details, stated that the final rule is anticipated to be released next month. The individuals who revealed potential changes requested anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing rule process and confidential discussions with the administration. The New York Times initially reported on Saturday that the EPA planned to ease its suggested regulations for vehicle emissions.

Former President Donald Trump has strongly criticized Biden’s policies on electric vehicles, labeling them as “lunacy” and using the issue to gain support from auto workers in Michigan, a state he narrowly won in the previous election. Other members of the Republican party have also joined in, making false claims that Biden intends to ban gasoline-powered vehicles. On the other hand, Biden has faced challenges in gaining support from young climate activists, who are not pleased with any actions taken by the administration that seem like a compromise for political reasons.

The company chose not to support Biden’s strong stance on labor rights, stating that they hoped the president would advocate more forcefully for improved pay and benefits at electric vehicle plants.

Amidst this context, the EPA is considering whether to adhere to the ambitious schedule outlined in April for mandating car manufacturers to reduce emissions from their vehicles’ exhaust systems.

The regulation does not specifically require a transition from the internal combustion engine. However, the necessary reductions would be significant enough that a complete switch to electric vehicles would be the most direct method of meeting the restrictions.

The initial timeline may experience a delay that aligns with a different regulation called Alternative 3, which was proposed by the EPA in April. According to the EPA, this alternative would result in a total of 200 million additional tons of carbon dioxide pollution by 2055 compared to their original draft. This is equivalent to the yearly emissions of over 40 million cars.

The administration is not restricted to only considering those scenarios, and it is feasible that new models have altered its forecasts.

Some proponents of clean energy stressed that although the government is considering scaling back its initial plan, it is unlikely to alter the ultimate pollution restrictions that it aims to implement by 2032.

According to Jake Abbott, a policy adviser for the advocacy campaign Climate Power, the Biden administration is not delaying their timeline, based on discussions with the administration.

According to a source familiar with the administration’s thoughts, the potential choices being considered would still enable Biden to reach his objective of having electric vehicles account for at least half of all new car sales by 2030. This would put the country on course for even further advancements by 2032.

The upcoming EPA regulation targeting power plant emissions, which is the second largest proposed measure to reduce carbon emissions, is estimated to prevent 617 million tons of pollution over the course of 20 years.

Proposal from the Department of Energy regarding water heaters for residential use.
A policy aimed at promoting heat pumps could potentially decrease CO2 emissions by approximately 500 million tons.

John Bozzella, the leader of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, urged the government to delay the transition in order to allow the market and supply chains to catch up. This would allow for more time to install vehicle chargers and for the incentives from President Biden’s climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, to thrive.

The 2021 infrastructure law and the IRA have been significant investments for Biden and congressional Democrats in promoting electric vehicles. These measures include incentives for buying and producing electric vehicles domestically. Biden’s environmental supporters view this as a positive step for the president, particularly in states with a strong manufacturing industry.

Trump is aiming to change Michigan’s support from Biden, as he did against Hillary Clinton in the past, and he has made frequent appearances in the state over the last year, including last week. He frequently mentions electric vehicles as a disadvantage for the economy in his campaign speeches in Michigan, and has even tried to secure the UAW’s endorsement by promising to stop Biden’s “all Electric Car SCAM.” Although the UAW’s leadership ultimately endorsed Biden, this does not mean that individual union members cannot still vote for Trump.

Meanwhile, Abbott from Climate Power mentioned that Michigan has greatly benefited from the IRA and has seen the creation of numerous jobs due to incentives.

According to a December survey conducted by Impact Research, 57% of Michigan voters predict that electric cars will dominate sales in the next two decades. Additionally, 55% of respondents expressed their support for investments in electric vehicle manufacturing within the state.

“Residents of Michigan are in strong favor of investing in the clean manufacturing industry, both at the federal and state level, specifically in regards to electric vehicles,” stated Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “They recognize that this is the direction our state is headed and they want to position themselves as leaders in building the cars of tomorrow and surpassing global competition.”

However, advocating for a gradual transition to electric vehicles may appeal to independent voters, according to Third Way, a centrist political organization. In a recent poll conducted in Michigan and five other key states, it was revealed that less than half of voters are in favor of EVs, but 77 percent do support investing in clean energy.

When asked to identify the most urgent problem in the election, 35% of participants stated economic worries as their top concern, followed by border security and safeguarding democracy. Just 6% chose climate change as their primary issue, and the majority of these individuals intend to vote for Biden, according to the survey results.

According to Emily Becker, the deputy director of communications for climate and energy at the group, extending the timeline for the transition to electric vehicles is likely to be more well-received by voters while still maintaining support from Climate Hawks.

This report was contributed to by Robin Bravender, Jean Chemnick, Mike Lee, and Brian Dabbs.