Right-wing media attacks Biden's emissions plan

Murdoch-owned press claims that efforts to encourage electric car production are a "government mandate."

Media Corner

Following the Biden administration’s unveiling of new emission standards for consumer vehicles and trucks, the conservative press proceeded to paint the efforts to curb climate change as an oppressive government mandate for electric vehicles (EVs).

The guidelines, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described as pollution limits for “passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles for model years 2027 through 2032 and beyond,” would eliminate “7 billion tons of carbon emissions” and “provide nearly $100 billion of annual net benefits to society, including $13 billion of annual public health benefits due to improved air quality, and $62 billion in reduced annual fuel costs…”

In perspective, consumer vehicle emissions are responsible for nearly a fifth of our country’s greenhouse gasses. Even if a future administration decides to focus more on cracking down on industrial-level emissions or green infrastructure like public transportation, decreasing the polluting output of cars is a must for fighting climate change.

But despite a sluggish rollout, right-wing commentators are claiming such proposals are a Trojan horse for a kind of green tyranny.

For starters, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal concluded that “Donald Trump was right when he pointed out last weekend that President Biden’s EV mandate will do great harm to the U.S. auto industry” when they claimed that emission limits would hurt consumers, workers and companies.

Meanwhile, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), who is a known climate change denier, feigned concern for environmental impact and the plight of Congolese miners in a Fox News op-ed where she claimed that the market-focused policy was some sort of devious form of Soviet-style central planning.

“That’s the danger of government mandates -- consumer choice can’t compel manufacturers to do what’s best for the American people. If the market determines the adoption rate rather than the federal government, there will be more time to address these issues,” Fischer claimed.

And the far-right magazine The Federalist quoted the head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Center on Energy and Environment — which receives large portions of its funding from coal, oil, transportation and tobacco companies — who called the policy “one of the most extreme rules ever finalized by a federal agency.”

“The EPA’s rule would restrict the ability of Americans to buy gas-powered vehicles, a chilling abuse of power and a wanton disregard for individual freedom,” CEI’s Daren Bakst asserted in a statement.

In reality, nothing about the EPA’s endeavors is going to “ban” gas-powered cars. Hybrid-electric and standard cars (albeit with improved emission efficiencies) will still be produced well into 2032. The hope, according to the EPA, is to have EVs make up between 30% and 56% of all vehicles produced within the next six to eight years.

The real question is whether or not the Supreme Court will strike down Biden’s undertaking. While there is precedent for the Court to support federal regulation of carbon emissions, the current Court composition seems likely to halt the EPA from limiting cross-state pollution.

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Jamie Larson