Mandate of heaven

Like every regulator grant of power to the administrative agencies of the executive branch, the agency has grabbed the power and expanded it beyond its original intent. Take the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards imposed by the Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — please. The origin of federal fuel economy standards dates to the oil embargo of 1973-1974 imposed by Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the subsequent tripling in the price of crude oil. Americans could not be trusted to seek cars with better mileage on their own.

Like the old Temporary North of Mines Building at the University of Minnesota, it’s a long way to temporary. The CAFE standards have now become a tool wielded by the Biden administration to club Americans into submission to electric vehicles. We want nothing more than to be left alone, but they want to run our lives. Count the ways.

It’s a long list that includes the displacement of cars powered by internal combustion engines by electric vehicles. We love the former and reject the latter. Thus the latest edition of NHTSA’s CAFE standards, announced yesterday.

If you can translate, Carol Davenport’s related New York Times story pierces the veil shrouding this development:

The Biden administration on Friday tightened vehicle fuel mileage standards, part of its strategy to transform the American auto market into one that is dominated by electric vehicles that do not emit the pollution that is heating the planet.

The new mileage standards announced by the Transportation Department are among several regulations the administration is using to prod carmakers to produce more electric vehicles. In April, the Environmental Protection Agency issued strict new limits on tailpipe pollution that are designed to ensure that the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States are all-electric or hybrids by 2032, up from 7.6 percent last year.

A story like Davenport’s wouldn’t be complete without a word from the “experts”: “The push for more E.V.s comes as the world’s leading climate experts say that retiring the internal combustion engine is critical to staving off the most deadly effects of global warming.”

Put to one side the fact that these people are fascist nuts. They have good intentions, of course, or something like them.

Well, what do the new standards do?

The new standards require American automakers to increase fuel economy so that, across their product lines, their passenger cars would average 65 miles per gallon by 2031, up from 48.7 miles today. The average mileage for light trucks, including pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, would have to reach 45 miles per gallon, up from 35.1 miles per gallon.

Here again some translation — not much — is required:

[A]dministration officials say that, to meet the new standards, automakers would still have to both increase the number of all-electric and hybrid vehicles they sell while also increasing the fuel efficiency of their conventional cars.

The regulators have placed the internal combustion engine in the course of ultimate extinction. But it’s all for our own good:

“Not only will these new standards save Americans money at the pump every time they fill up, they will also decrease harmful pollution and make America less reliant on foreign oil,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These standards will save car owners more than $600 in gasoline costs over the lifetime of their vehicle.”

The new CAFE standards are a companion to the EPA tailpipe emissions standards that I noted in “Biden’s EV mandate.” Davenport seems to be impressed by the seamless whole.

NOTE: This Congressional Research Service backgrounder is of use in tracing the regulatory threads in the Biden administration campaign against the internal combustion engine.

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