North Carolina, are you ready for the gas car ban coming in 2032?

By Chet Thompson

Raleigh, NC – By all accounts, President Biden is going to be spending a lot more time in North Carolina. But I’d wager to guess he won’t say a thing during his visits about what his administration has just done to ban most new gas, diesel and traditional hybrid vehicles by 2032.

If this is news to you, I’m sorry to be the bearer, but it’s absolutely important that every American consumer know the truth and understand that this administration is in the process of taking away your vehicle choice.

President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a regulation this spring that will, in practice, ban the sale of most new gas cars and trucks in less than eight years. The end game is to force American drivers into electric vehicles (EVs) by taking away their other vehicle options.

This policy is unlawful and un-American. It’s bad for consumers, bad for the US economy and our national security. Congress — both the House of Representatives and United States Senate — will have an opportunity in the coming months to overturn this regulation, and each of North Carolina’s elected representatives should act to protect their constituents from EPA’s overreach.

EPA knows it doesn’t have the authority to ban new gas cars outright. So instead, what the agency has done is set tailpipe emissions “standards” that no existing gas, diesel, or traditional hybrid vehicles can meet. EPA admits in its own regulatory scenario forecasts that automakers will likely have to abandon the production of most traditional internal combustion engine vehicles by 2032 to comply with the new policy.

In fact, a look at EPA’s fleetwide standard for 2032 suggests that automakers would have to sell at least three EVs that year to be able to sell a single gas pickup truck. That’s a problem because gas pickup trucks are the most popular vehicles sold in America, by far, and EVs account for less than 8% of sales. Do the math. If not enough EVs sell, new gas cars could get rationed. In any normal sense of the word, this policy amounts to a ban.

For consumers, EPA’s regulation will vastly restrict their ability to find new gas cars and trucks, and it will raise those vehicle costs to a point where most can’t afford them.

EVs are still priced out of reach for many families and our electric grid and charging infrastructure are simply not ready for an EV mandate. Additionally, China’s dominance over the global supply chain for EV batteries and minerals is unquestioned. So, EPA’s regulation is going to leave us more dependent on a known foreign adversary.

To be clear, my objections are with EPA’s policy approach and not with EVs themselves. EVs can be a great option for some drivers, and their popularity is growing. But it’s also obvious that EVs aren’t the best choice for everyone, and certainly not in the next eight years.

EPA can and should set ambitious vehicle standards, but their policies have to respect consumers, take a full accounting of the environmental tradeoffs associated with every vehicle, and not be manipulated to cut off access to gas cars. All technologies need to be able to compete to provide cleaner, more-efficient transportation. 

EPA’s regulation is on track to phase in starting in 2027, but Congress can stop it if they move quickly through the Congressional Review Act process. With 75% of Americans clearly opposed to gas car bans and EV mandates, and with North Carolina already having taken action to prohibit the spread of California’s gas car ban at the state level, the choice to overturn this regulation and stand up for consumer freedom should be obvious. But we can’t take that for granted. Call your elected officials in Washington, DC, and call the White House. Tell them to reverse the car ban.

Chet Thompson is president and CEO of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. He previously served as deputy general counsel for the US Environmental Protection Agency during the George W. Bush administration and was a partner at Crowell and Moring, where he chaired the Environment and Natural Resources Group.