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New EV Mandates Threaten National Security

General Motors and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) revealed the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 fuel cell electric vehicle. (General Motors/Released)

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Recent events in the Middle East and Europe have brought into sharp relief the risk associated with an increased dependence on foreign countries for energy supplies. They also serve as a stark reminder why energy security has been a longstanding priority for the United States. 

Over the past decade our country has made significant progress towards achieving this goal, as evidenced by the fact that in 2019 America became a net energy exporter for the first time in almost seventy years. Unfortunately, an expensive and unrealistic national transition toward renewables championed by President Biden threatens to reverse this progress and jeopardize America’s energy security. 

While many consider renewables an important part of our energy mix, they are not currently efficient or abundant enough to fully supplant traditional sources for our energy needs. This fact, coupled with onerous emissions reduction requirements like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed tailpipe emissions rule, mean that the Biden Administration’s rapid energy transition goals could spell disaster in terms of our economic and defense resiliency.

This tailpipe emissions rule is the result of a misguided attempt to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. Using the EPA, the Biden Administration has enacted some of the most stringent emissions standards to date. The administration’s fixation on forced EV adoption is an attempt to appeal to fringe activists in his party who incorrectly believe that a zero emissions future must be reached regardless of the economic or national security damage brought about by their policies. 

The Administration’s proposed rule would require that two-thirds of new cars, almost half of medium-duty trucks and buses, and a quarter of all heavy trucks sold in the U.S. would have to be electric by 2032 in order for carmakers to comply. To add fuel to the fire, the companies impacted by these proposed rules will see a hefty fine – as high as billions of dollars – if they fail to meet the new rules.

These aggressive and arbitrary standards, aimed to satisfy the Administration’s push to reach zero emissions by 2050, would impose significant costs on American families who would struggle to afford these more expensive vehicles. In addition to consumer impacts, the proposed mandates would strain the electric utility sector. Real world experience has shown that the electric grid is unprepared to handle the increased demand from such a rapid and dramatic increase in the number of electric vehicles. Electricity rationing or unwanted brownouts or blackouts could follow.

These mandates also come with significant costs for American national security. The rapid electrification of the transportation sector would pose serious risks to the integrity of America’s energy supply chain by increasing the country’s dependence on foreign adversaries like China for electric vehicle production and necessary critical minerals. Today the communist country controls around 77% of global EV battery production, they have effectively cornered 80 percent of the world refining market for cobalt, and by 2025 they are expected to control one-third of the world’s lithium supply.

As these mandates force the U.S. to increasingly electrify its transportation and ground logistics fleet, its domestic economy could be thrown into chaos if the supply chains for these minerals and next-generation batteries are disrupted by China. Similarly, a push by the Pentagon to electrify more of its fleet in an attempt to reach net zero emissions by 2050 demonstrates how the U.S. military could find itself at a strategic point of failure should it implement widespread EV mandates before the U.S. can scale up domestic battery manufacturing capacity and alternative supply chains for critical minerals.

Attempting to carry out the far-fetched plan the EPA has proposed would severely threaten the national security balance by inadvertently tilting it in China’s favor and making us more reliant on foreign sources to provide us with key supplies. By moving the United States away from transportation fuels which it possesses in abundance without a clear plan for establishing a secure supply chain for these new energy resources, it will effectively allow a near-peer competitor to wield control of critical minerals as a geopolitical weapon. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) amplified this possibility unfolding in a recent publication, detailing how the United States risks increasing its reliance on Chinese imports to a level that will surpass any previous dependency on Middle Eastern oil and gas.

China – an early investor in electric vehicles and supplies – likely anticipated the geopolitical advantage associated with the electric vehicle industry. Now the White House is playing into their hands by surrendering our energy independence in favor of materials China abundantly possesses, just to meet aggressive climate demands. As global tensions continue to mount in the Pacific, the Biden Administration must acknowledge these risks and stop this new EPA proposal before it is too late.

Major General Bob Dees, US Army, Retired, has a breadth of national security expertise, including development of high technology weapons and communications systems. He is President of Resilience Consulting LLC, promoting individual, leader, and national resilience best practices.