(The Center Square) – Electric vehicles’ biggest supporter of late has been President Joe Biden, who has stressed the vehicles as a central part of his efforts to address climate change. But critics question the economic and environmental impact of that transition.
Biden spoke at a Ford Motor electric vehicle plant in Michigan Tuesday to tout his $174 billion electric vehicle plan, which includes billions for charging stations and opening battery production facilities, as part of his effort to make electric vehicles a dominant part of America’s car manufacturing industry.
The plan comes as part of trillions of dollars in proposed tax hikes and spending increases to come out of the White House since January. Biden’s plan would spend $45 billion to convert buses, including school buses, to electric and set aside $15 billion to help fund a network of 500,000 charging stations.
The plan would also begin transitioning federal agencies like the U.S. Postal Service to electric vehicles, and create incentives for manufacturers to create affordable electric vehicles.
Since his inauguration, Biden has stressed technological innovation and competition with other nations, particularly China, in green energy technology.
“Increasingly, the global market is shifting to electric vehicles … tapping into EVs’ potential to save families thousands of dollars, lower carbon pollution, and make the air we breathe cleaner,” the White House said in a statement. “Yet, despite pioneering the technology, the United States is behind in the race to manufacture these vehicles and the batteries that go in them.”
Critics pointed to the unintended consequences of the transition, saying it will hurt lower-income Americans more and that taxpayers will pay for it.
“EV subsidies are a giveaway to politically favored manufacturers and amounts to a highly regressive tax – forcing those who drive traditional gas-powered vehicles to shoulder the costs of highways and roads while EV drivers – a disproportionate number of whom are wealthy – literally get a free ride,” said Joel Griffith from the Heritage Foundation.
Anticipating concerns over economic impact, the White House has consistently messaged Biden’s “green” efforts as job creation plans.
“When I think of the climate crisis, I think of jobs,” Biden said. “If we act to save the planet we can create millions of jobs, generate significant economic growth, and raise the standard of living of people around the world.”
Critics also argue that American consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles and that the recent Colonial Pipeline hacking shows this is the time to be strengthening, not weakening, the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.
“While there is nothing wrong with Ford Motor increasing consumer choice by expanding its offering of electric vehicles, President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars on cars very few Americans want,” said Ben Lieberman, an energy and environment expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “In fact, he’s actually making life harder for the 97 percent who prefer gasoline and diesel powered cars and trucks. From restrictions on domestic oil production to the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, his administration has committed to energy and climate policies that can only spell bad news in the years ahead.
“The recent Colonial Pipeline incident shows the importance of a robust domestic infrastructure for liquid fuels, but that is not what we will be getting from this President,” he added.
Despite not using a combustible engine, electric vehicles have faced criticism for their environmental impact. Critics point to the rare earth minerals mining needed for batteries and say the carbon emissions needed to manufacture the vehicles are often ignored.
“Electric vehicles are nowhere near as environmentally ‘friendly’ as proponents claim, assuming these environmentalists care about carbon emissions,” said Daniel Turner, founder of the energy workers advocacy group, Power the Future. “And with the federal government pouring money into companies like Tesla with tax breaks designed to boost sales, it’s more important than ever that we get to the truth. Strain on the electric grid, human rights abuses, environmental degradation are part of the electric vehicles’ legacy.
“America deserves an honest conversation before we, the taxpayers, subsidize the transition to electric vehicles,” he added.