Consumer choice and decision-making should be independent of government interference and instead be left to the individual to weigh the pros and cons of their decision rationally. Together, California and the Biden administration are collaborating to restrict an individual’s agency by mandating a sales ban on combustion engine vehicles by 2035 and instead favoring “zero-emission vehicles”. California’s restriction is just the beginning. Now, more than a dozen states are adopting a similar ban on new gas cars.
In the 1970s, Congress established uniform national fuel economy and environmental standards for the auto industry. It also directed the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish several other uniform federal requirements related to protecting our domestic auto industry manufacturing, preserving the development of affordable new vehicle models, maintaining highway safety, and promoting national security - including by discouraging dependence on adversarial foreign powers. Congress then reinforced these policy directives by prohibiting states from imposing different requirements for new vehicles covered by these federal rules.
To skirt these uniform standards, Biden’s EPA has creatively invoked a separate authority - provided through the Clean Air Act - to grant California a waiver of these federal rules when necessary to “meet compelling and extraordinary conditions” affecting local air quality. The EPA’s use of this waiver authority to advance radical global climate objectives contradicts the waiver's explicit intent to address local air-quality conditions unique to California. Further, this effect is compounded because the Clean Air Act allowed more than a dozen other Blue states to adopt California’s waivered regulations for use in their own areas where local air quality is considered “poor”.
This is not just a Blue state issue. Because of California’s outsized market share in the automotive industry, automakers nationwide would have no choice but to produce cars, pickups, and SUVs that comply with the extremely restrictive ban on combustion engine vehicle sales. We must preserve consumer choice, maintain safety, and enable healthy competition in auto markets by ensuring Americans have access to reliable and affordable vehicles.
Thankfully, Congressmen John Joyce (PA-13), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Bob Latta (OH-15), and Jay Obernolte (CA-23) introduced H.R. 1435 to prevent the EPA from issuing a waiver to allow for this sales ban to take effect. Heritage Action commends these members for standing up for the American consumer and preserving the integrity of the automotive industry.