Rubio: Rapid EV transition could lead to blackouts, empower China

The EPA has touted the rules, saying they would improve air quality by avoiding "nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions."

Published: June 7, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

A set of controversial Environmental Protection Agency proposed tailpipe regulations expected to rapidly transition the U.S. to electric vehicles is continuing to receive pushback from critics.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised an array of concerns about the quick transition to electric vehicles in a letter he sent Wednesday to Gary Gensler, chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the letter, Rubio said the transition could lead to widespread blackouts, raising concerns about “potentially disastrous implications of widespread EV adoption for the country’s transportation infrastructure and energy grid.”

He argues that companies investing heavily in this electric vehicle transition could be on the verge of disaster, thus threatening their investors.

“The dramatic rise in [electricity] consumption will place pressure on the electric grid and may force electric utilities to implement rationing practices such as rolling blackouts,” the letter said. “I write to request that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) evaluate these risks, and enhance the disclosure requirements of registrants that produce EVs, to allow investors to be better informed about the risks of investing in such companies.”

As The Center Square previously reported, the EPA itself has called the regulation “ambitious.” The federal agency has projected that the proposed changes would lead to fully electric vehicles comprising two thirds of all new "light duty" and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales by the year 2032. That would include most regular consumer vehicles, even SUVs, as well as many pickup trucks. Electric vehicles currently make up less than 5% of the market.

For that transition to take place, the U.S. would need to significantly increase energy production as well as the relevant infrastructure such as charging stations and costly electrical grid upgrades to handle the increased power needs of homes charging electric vehicles.

“According to J.D. Power, failed charging attempts rose from 15 percent in 2021 to more than 21 percent in 2022,” Rubio said. “Imagine if gas stations failed to perform their most basic function one out of five times.”

Rubio also argues the move raises foreign policy concerns by making the U.S. even more reliant on one of its main rivals: China.

“The EV industry is heavily dependent on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for components and scarce raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite,” the letter said. “This dependency poses a serious risk to EV companies, which could be cut off at the whim of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Supporters argue the change will help fight back against climate change. The EPA has touted the rules, saying they would improve air quality by avoiding "nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions."

The American Lung Association released a report Wednesday estimating the nation would have 2.2 million fewer asthma attacks if the transition to electric vehicles occurred.

The proposed rule changes, though, still face a long public comment and approval process. For now they are receiving steady pushback. A group of 151 House Republicans sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan last month blasting the proposed rules, calling them "unworkable and impractical."

"The proposals are the latest effort by the Biden administration to commandeer America’s transportation sector and force its complete vehicle electrification under the guise of mitigating climate change," the letter said.

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