House passes a bill that could prolong ICE-powered vehicle sales
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, or H.R. 1435, which restricts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing any waiver for new regulations that would ban the sale or use of new vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The bill passed with some bipartisan support, 222 to 190, with eight Democrats joining their Republican colleagues in the majority. The bill is in response to action by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which approved requirements on automakers that would effectively ban the sale of new ICE-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 in favor of zero-emission vehicles, like full battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. To institute its plan, California would need a waiver of Clean Air Act preemption provisions from the EPA.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) shepherded H.R. 1435 through the committee in July. “Seventeen other states have similar bans on internal combustion engines that would be triggered if EPA approves California’s request. This affects 40 percent of the United States’ new vehicle market.”
“California’s discriminatory waiver request would set a costly and dangerous precedent,” said Rep. John Joyce (R-Pennsylvania), who authored the bill. “One state should not be able to set national policy and Americans should not be coerced into making purchases they cannot afford.” The CARB request “is a heavy-handed proposal that only takes away choices from American consumers.”
The bill also had the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said in a memo from Chamber senior vice-president Evan Jenkins: “When added to growing auto sector challenges related to labor tensions, global competition, and longer-term inflation and supply chain challenges, regulatory burdens could exacerbate sectoral headwinds and increase the likelihood that negative consequences spill over into the broader economy.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-New York), a co-sponsor of the bill, was among the most outspoken Republicans. “Leaders like New York Governor Kathy Hochul are attempting to shove their far-left Green New Deal agenda down the throats of the American consumers, shamelessly pushing out-of-touch policies that would ban gas-powered cars in favor of electric vehicles, ultimately eliminating consumer choice. For many communities in Upstate New York and the North Country, electric vehicles are not feasible,” said Stefanik.
Most Democrats viewed the bill differently, expressing the opinion during floor debate that it would lengthen the nation’s dependence on petroleum. “This bill is a love letter to Big Oil—legally mandating that Americans think first of the internal combustion engine before considering air quality or public health,” Rep. Doris Matsui (D-California) said.
The next step is passage in the U.S. Senate, which may be more difficult. And if it does pass, President Biden has indicated he would likely veto the measure. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), the co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, has introduced S. 2090, a Senate companion bill to H.R. 1435, which includes the same bill text. It awaits a vote.