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Opinion | More EV production does not fit the needs of Michigan

In the car capital of the world, you would think that increased automobile production would be heavily encouraged. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized the nation’s strictest tailpipe emissions rules that look to drastically increase electric vehicle (EV) production and sales while discriminating against conventional gas-powered cars. 

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State Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, represents Michigan’s 105th House district

This heavy influx of electric cars will place undue burdens on Michiganders and will come with numerous implications for both our state’s future and our nation. Michigan’s federal lawmakers should urge Biden’s EPA to withdraw this costly regulation.

Ever since President Biden was elected in 2020, it has been his goal to advance his climate agenda in whatever capacity necessary. His administration’s latest move will effectively eliminate more than 50% of our nation’s gas-powered cars from our roadways. More specifically, the EPA’s rule will require that nearly two-thirds of our automobiles are fully electric or hybrid plug-in by the year 2032. 

Here in Michigan, car production is the backbone of the state economy, contributing more than $300 billion annually. Not to mention, the automotive industry supports 1.1 million jobs, or 20% of Michigan's workforce. Throwing a wrench in Michigan’s namesake industry to accommodate an influx of EV production would wreak havoc across a state that so greatly depends on the automobile for just about everything. 

We have already witnessed the preliminary impacts of forced increased EV production through worker layoffs by General Motors, Stellantis and Ford – and that’s before the EPA’s mandate even goes into effect. To comply with the rule, these companies will have to completely shift their production models to fit the needs of even more EVs, doomed to cause a shortage of trained workers and an increase in production costs. But the materials needed for EV manufacturing will also come with strings attached.

The Biden administration’s tailpipe emissions rule carries severe national security risks that have yet to be considered. China is home to the largest amount of critical minerals and controls around 77% of the world’s EV battery manufacturing capacity. Materials like cobalt, lithium and nickel are core inputs for clean energy technology and EV batteries. 

Unfortunately, the only way for the U.S. to obtain these critical materials? Through China — putting our nation’s supply chain under the influence of a foreign adversary. This also means that “American-made” would no longer stake its claim in EV production, mainly composed of Chinese materials. 

Not only would our national security and economy see a detrimental impact, but the electric grid would see a certain decline in reliability. 

This month, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its Summer Reliability Assessment (SRA), which found that a large part of the U.S. and North America are at risk for energy supply shortfalls.  If the current status of our electric grid is already fragile, imagine what would happen with an accelerated increase of EVs – surely, we would see increased unreliability of our electric grid and higher risk of brownouts and blackouts.

It's more than obvious that the risks outweigh the benefits of the EPA’s tailpipe emissions rule, and we need lawmakers to step in and put an end to these irrational policies. 

There’s no reason why the Biden administration should be eliminating consumers’ ability to choose what vehicle they drive. They also should not be putting our supply needs at the helm of China, threatening our national security. 

If we want to mitigate our climate impacts, we must do so with sensible and pragmatic policies. The administration would be smart to go back to the drawing board and come up with a rational plan that ensures all needs are met and considered. Michigan’s lawmakers who represent us in Washington should make this issue a priority.

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