Alaska senator takes aim at regulation that would slash tailpipe emissions and boost electric car sales

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

The Biden administration this week announced tougher standards on tailpipe emissions from cars and Sen. Dan Sullivan is raising the alarm. He says President Biden’s push for electrical vehicles is a threat to the free market, consumer choice and the American dream.

“No, I don’t like it,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “I think it’s … this administration’s attempt to go around Congress and literally force people to buy certain cars. And maybe even eventually get rid of the combustion engine.”

Sullivan and Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., say they’ll try to move a resolution through Congress to overturn the new rule. They describe it as an electric vehicle “mandate” and say it endangers upward mobility.

“Access to a vehicle is a pathway out of poverty for tens of millions of working-class Americans,” Sullivan and Ricketts said in an emailed statement. “Biden’s rule will make it harder for them and all Americans to buy and maintain a vehicle.”

The regulation is intended ensure that a majority of cars and trucks sold in the U.S. are electric or hybrids by 2032, as a way to reduce the carbon emissions that drive climate change. The rule doesn’t require manufacturers to stop producing traditional cars, but making electric vehicles is the most likely way for them to meet the new pollution standards.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is more neutral about the rule. She notes that it doesn’t go as far as Biden had proposed. Sales of electric vehicles have cooled recently, and Murkowski said the Biden administration is responding to market conditions.

“I think that’s what we’re seeing. And I think this is why the administration felt like they needed to dial this back just a little bit,” she said.

And, she said, the Biden administration wants to please carmakers with an election coming up.

Murkowski has championed electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them. She said they’re well suited to some parts of Alaska, like Juneau, which has hundreds of EVs on the road.

Cold can constrain an electric vehicle’s range. Still, Chugach Electric says Alaskans own nearly 3,500 vehicles that are plug-in hybrids or fully electric.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

Previous articleAlaska creates climate plan to reduce statewide emissions and fund a wide range of sustainable energy projects
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Thursday, March 21, 2024