EPA’s new EV rules don’t hold water

Landgraf, Perryman say electric vehicles have a place but not under EPA’s naive demands

A Tesla Model S sits plugged in to an electric vehicle charging station Thursday afternoon, June 30, 2022, at the Odessa Marriott Hotel. (Odessa American/Eli Hartman)

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf and Waco economist Ray Perryman say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules for the imposition of electric vehicles on the American public simply won’t work.

Aimed at increasing EV sales, which were only 5.8 percent of new vehicle sales in 2022 and 7.6 percent last year, the EPA said the automobile industry must achieve 56 percent of new vehicle sales being electric by 2032 along with at least 13 percent of plug-in hybrids or other partially electric cars as well as more efficient gasoline-powered cars that get more miles to the gallon.

The number of gasoline-powered vehicles that can be sold will be thereby greatly limited.

“The Biden Administration’s heavy-handed imposition of mandates regarding EV adoption is deeply troubling,” said Landgraf, an Odessa Republican who chairs the Teas House Environmental Regulation Committee in Austin. “Rather than allowing the natural course of the free market to guide the transition they’re enforcing regulations that will limit consumer choice, jeopardize our energy independence and undermine the robustness of our traditional energy sectors.”

Landgraf said it was the prospect of such federal regulations that prompted him to file the Texas Energy Choice Act in 2023.

“This legislation prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing any rule or ordinance that would limit access to gasoline, diesel or any other fuel source and I’m proud that the Texas Energy Freedom Act is now law,” he said. “But the fight to defend Texas energy never ends.

“We cannot allow Texas to become like California where everything from gas stations to gas-powered lawn mowers are being outlawed.”

He said Texas must nevertheless maintain a proactive approach in acknowledging the changing dynamics of the automotive industry.

“With electric vehicles emerging as a significant component of our future it’s imperative for our state to stay ahead of the curve,” Landgraf said. “The recent surge of electric vehicles registered in Texas, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, serves as a stark reminder of this evolving trend.

“This underscores the pressing need for our state to swiftly devise a comprehensive plan to meet the surging demand for a dependable electric vehicle infrastructure network. Additionally, as the number of electric vehicles on our roads continues to climb, it’s essential to establish a framework through which these vehicles contribute to the funding of our roads and infrastructure.”

Given that EVs exert greater wear and tear on roads because of their weight, Landgraf said, “It’s only fair that they contribute their share toward maintaining our state’s infrastructure.

“Thus the legislature’s recent enactment of legislation introducing an electric vehicle tax to ensure that EV owners play a just role in supporting our state’s roads.”

Perryman said the EPA’s new limits will probably not remain in force because they would be very disruptive if they did.

“The relatively small number of gas-powered vehicles which could be sold would become very expensive because of the loss of scale economies, which would jeopardize some key American industries such as farming and ranching as well as hobbies such as boating and camping,” the economist said. “In some geographic areas and for some individuals, a changeover to an EV is not seamless.

“Densely populated cities can install charging stations fairly efficiently. A person who drives only short distances and can afford to install an in-home charger will also not be extremely inconvenienced. For millions of people, however, an EV is simply not a viable solution given the current and anticipated future path of technology and infrastructure.

“At present automakers are losing money on every EV they produce primarily because of insufficient demand. Virtually all EVs cost more than $50,000, which is another factor slowing adoption.”

Perryman said the recent poor performance of EVs in winter weather also brought their viability into question and diminished their appeal.

“EVs clearly have a useful role to play in meeting future transportation needs while dealing with climate issues but not at the pace that the new guidelines anticipate,” he said. “In fact, some requirements for producing them recently were scaled back due to the lack of feasibility of achieving them.

“A somewhat ironic point which is often lost in this discussion is that EVs are not pollution-free. Although they don’t have tailpipe emissions, battery-powered cars are heavier and their tires and the roads they drive on wear faster, causing particulate emissions.

“In addition, mining for lithium and other components of batteries can bring environmental problem issues as can disposal. Obviously EVs require the generation of substantial amounts of additional electricity, much of which will be generated by natural gas for the foreseeable future.

“Renewable energy will be a growing part of the power mix as it should be. Studies by our firm, the U.S. Department of Energy and many others indicate that EVs will not expand rapidly enough to meet future demand, particularly at night when many vehicles would be charging.”

Perryman said power storage technology is improving but not at a pace that will provide for all electricity needs, especially given the recent demand surge driven by data centers, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and other phenomena.

“In fact one of our recent studies indicated that increasing EV demand sufficiently to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Accord would require an additional 8 trillion cubic of natural gas per year in the U.S. alone,” he said. “The infrastructure is also not in place for the level of changeover anticipated by the new emissions standards and it cannot be added at the sufficient pace.

“From apartment buildings to thousands of miles of interstates, chargers will be required and they will be costly to add. The challenge in emerging countries is even more daunting. There will clearly be an important role for EVs in meeting climate goals and demand for them will likely rise over time. It is important to be realistic about the pace and level of their deployment, however, and to look beyond the tailpipe for measuring emissions and finding effective climate strategies.”

He said shifting toward 1) lower carbon oil, 2) more rapid replacement of coal for power generation, 3) carbon capture techniques at wellheads, generation facilities, refineries and chemical plants, 4) hybrid vehicles and 5) “other new and innovative approaches to emission reductions can accelerate progress without the imposition of draconian and impractical regulations.

“I fully anticipate that we will see the EPA backing off from this rule over time as the full implications and reactions become clear,” Perryman said.