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Biden Bureaucrat Has Supported Higher Energy Costs To Push The Green Transition. She’s On Her Way With A New Rule

  • Ann Carlson, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has a history of advocating for policies that force changes in consumer behavior in order to fight climate change.
  • A new rule proposal from NHTSA could raise upfront vehicle costs by up to $1,000 and require American automobile manufacturers to effectively double their fleets’  fuel economy by model year 2032.
  • “Bureaucrats like Carlson have long believed punitive measures like higher prices and regulatory red-tape are the best means to force the green agenda,” Daniel Turner, director of Power The Future, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator Ann Carlson, whose agency proposed a new rule Friday that would make internal combustion engine vehicles more expensive, previously advocated policies that would raise energy costs to spur the green transition.

Carlson, formerly a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has a history of advocating for policies that could raise energy prices and burden Americans with new costs, viewing such policies as an effective mechanism to alter consumer behavior to support the green energy transition. NHTSA proposed updates to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards Friday, which would raise the costs of gas-powered vehicles for American consumers in the aim of reducing emissions and countering climate change.

While NHTSA estimates that the rule proposal would save Americans a cumulative $50 billion in fuel costs over the long term, consumers would incur up to $1,000 upfront costs for vehicles and it would incentivize manufacturers to push electric vehicles (EVs) on consumers, according to the rule proposal and experts interviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The average new EV is more than $4,000 more expensive than the average new internal combustion engine vehicle, according to July data from Kelley Blue Book.

“This is an EV mandate and further evidence that the elites want normal people to hoof it or take the bus,” Dan Kish, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, previously said of the rule proposal to the DCNF.

The proposed rule will effectively require auto manufacturers to double the average fleet fuel efficiency, from the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimated 2022 efficiency level of 26.4 miles per gallon to “potentially reaching an average fleet fuel economy of 58 miles per gallon by 2032,” according to a Friday Department of Transportation (DOT) press release announcing the proposal.

“Bureaucrats like Carlson have long believed punitive measures like higher prices and regulatory red-tape are the best means to force the green agenda,” Daniel Turner, director of Power The Future, told the DCNF. “The Biden Administration sees the administrative state as their enforcement arm for an agenda they know the American people categorically reject.”

“Only the wealthy are immune” to the increased costs ushered in by bureaucrats like Carlson, Turner continued, adding that “middle-class America is getting crushed, and so Ms. Carlson must be asked how many people must suffer until the ‘good’ part of the green agenda kicks in.”

The rule would require cars and light trucks to improve their respective fuel efficiencies by 2% and 4% starting in model year 2027, according to the Friday DOT press release. The updated CAFE standards would also require work vans and pickup trucks to increase their fuel efficiencies by 10% each year for a five year period, starting in model year 2030, according to the press release.

“I don’t believe, at heart, that most people will engage in dramatic behavioral change unless forced,” Carson wrote in a 2009 piece for Legal Planet. “Behavioral change with respect to consumer car purchases won’t occur, in other words, out of the goodness of our hearts,” she added.

In a 2008 article for the Michigan Law Review, Carlson advocated for a plan to “raise energy prices” for consumers and pressure “manufacturers to increase the energy efficiency of their products.” “Congress should allow California to set standards more stringent than federal law in order to encourage policy innovation that, if successful, can ultimately be exported to the rest of the country,” she wrote.

Carlson has also voiced her support for regulating widely-used appliances in the name of fighting climate change. Carlson discussed regulating appliance use in a speech delivered at the Climate and Energy Law Symposium in 2009, in which she remarked that “U.S. buildings collectively emit about 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

“All of these appliances obviously use electricity in order to be powered and that electricity, if it’s not from a renewable source, which most of it isn’t still today, generates greenhouse gas emissions,” she said during her speech. “Now we could solve the problem by moving away from carbon based fuels, but we’re far from doing that, and it’s not clear to me that we’re ever going to do it.  So in the meantime, I think most people would agree that an effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to improve energy efficiency.”

In the same speech, she also praised the state of California as a “leader in issuing stringent appliance standards prior to federal preemption.”

In 2020 remarks about the Clean Air Act, Carlson said that California’s regulations on automobiles and diesel-powered trucks have “led to extraordinary reductions in pollution” which “would not have occurred had the federal government been left on its own.”

NHTSA’s primary mission is “keeping people safe on America’s roadways,” according to its website.

The new proposal will “benefit our nation and all Americans,” Carlson said, according to the Friday DOT press release. The proposal will “advance our energy security, reduce harmful emissions, and save families and business owners money at the pump,” she continued, adding “that’s good news for everyone.”

NHTSA conceded that the rule will cost manufacturers about $236.5 billion in a separate report on the rule proposal, according to FOX News. If the rule is finalized and manufacturers fail to comply with the updated standards, they will face stiff fines from the government, according to the rule’s text.

General Motors raised concerns to the Biden administration about prospective updates to the CAFE standards, reportedly telling administration officials in mid-July that the updated standards could cost American automobile manufacturers “$100 to $300 billion in total penalties” from 2027-2031, according to Reuters. The administration, however, deemed this assessment to be “pure speculation and inaccurate,” according to Reuters.

Beyond being “elitist and out of touch with everyday Americans,” the Biden administration is “flaunting the Constitution by allowing someone whose name was  withdrawn from Senate confirmation sit in the office as ‘Acting Administrator,’ doing the same things that got her into trouble with the U.S. Senate,” Kish told the DCNF. “She’s a dilettante, spending all her time on her climate hobby while ignoring the safety of the American public, which is her real job.”

Senate Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, tanked Carlson’s confirmation to the top post at NHTSA in May, citing her past statements about using energy costs as a launching pad for green transition. President Joe Biden opted to appoint her to the job on an acting basis after withdrawing her nomination, thereby circumventing Senate approval.

Carlson, “a Los Angeles liberal with a law degree and a background in climate,” was brought into the Biden administration “to implement this climate agenda, and she has zero experience in highway-related fields,” Tom Jones, director of the American Accountability Foundation, told the DCNF. The NHTSA proposal is “clearly an initiative towards forcing everyone to have an EV,” Jones said.

“The goal is to ban the internal combustion engine,” Jones continued, adding that the rule proposal from Carlson’s NHTSA is “terrible for working-class Americans.”

Friday’s rule proposal came out about three months after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new proposal for tailpipe emissions which would mandate that new car fleets be comprised of 67% EVs.

Neither the White House, NHTSA nor DOT responded immediately to requests for comment.

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