OPINION: The Knock-Out Punch for Combustion Engines

Unfairly Tipping the Market Towards Electric Vehicles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released proposal to further restrict emissions standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles is essentially the knock-out punch for the internal combustion engine. This proposal, as drafted, will decisively and unfairly tilt the U.S. car and truck market toward electric vehicles over the next decade.

The EPA’s proposed emissions standards for model years 2027-32 would effectively ban gasoline and diesel vehicles, forcing consumers to go all-electric. The implications, intended or otherwise, of this proposal will be far-reaching for West Virginia’s consumers, as well as the industries that revolve around manufacturing, maintaining and advancing internal combustion engines.

As an automotive small business owner, I understand firsthand the problems created by heavy-handed legislation and its unintended consequences. I have worked hard to pass legislation that allows our state to be at the forefront of automotive tourism and business, but this proposal flies in the face of that effort.

Small businesses will be the most vulnerable to the disruptions caused by a seismic, government-regulated shift to battery-electric vehicles. We believe government policies should support the work of small businesses, which employ millions of Americans and power the $51 billion automotive aftermarket industry. Instead, these proposed rules limit the ability of these businesses and the market to drive solutions to the environmental challenges we all seek to solve.

The automotive industry plays a significant role in West Virginia’s economic vitality. In our state alone, the auto industry supports $1.3 billion in labor income and more than 27,000 jobs. The state also benefits from sales taxes on auto parts and services, which would be severely limited if these regulations shift the balance to EVs.

While the regulations claim to be “technology neutral,” these rules do not currently support a diversified zero-emissions approach that takes advantage of breakthroughs across the spectrum of vehicle propulsion technologies. We believe multiple technologies could help us cross the finish line to zero emissions. American-grown biofuels, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, carbon capture, innovations in engine production and hybrid technologies could all be part of the equation to help us reach that goal.

Our official state motto is Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free), but the results of these policies would severely reduce consumer choice and adversely impact the largely rural vehicle owners of our state. Car buyers should have the freedom to purchase the vehicles that best suit their personal requirements and the needs of their families, but soon EVs could be the only option.

The market remains skeptical of new EV technology and the infrastructure ready to support it. In fact, in 2022, just 817 battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were sold in West Virginia. If the EPA draft standards are implemented by 2032 as proposed, the agency anticipates that two-thirds of all new-car sales in the U.S. will be electric vehicles. Meanwhile, according to a recent report by J.D. Power , concerns about charging issues, pricing and confusion around federal tax credits are prompting more shoppers to avoid purchasing EVs.

I am actively working to fight back against legislation that limits innovation and places the government’s heavy hand on the scale in favor of a chosen technology. We don’t want big government interfering with your right to buy the vehicle of your choice.

It’s important for West Virginians to get involved. Let your federal legislators know how important vehicle choice and innovation are to you. It’s not enough for them to say that they are with us. They need to demonstrate actual legislative action if West Virginians are to truly believe they are on our side

Senator Mark R. Maynard

CHAIR: Rule-Making Review Committee

CHAIR: Natural Resources

CHAIR: Enrolled Bills

CHAIR: Economic Development

VICE CHAIR: Interstate Cooperation

Read more about Senator Maynards unconventional campaign to beat the longest serving senate-majority leader in the Gazette-Mail.

BBG Note: Hybrids, Electric Vehicles, And The Black Community from Forbes, 2020

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