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Biden’s EV Push Puts U.S. in Economic Bind

Road sign EV with direction arrow
Road sign EV with direction arrow | Image by Elena Berd/Shutterstock

One of President Joe Biden’s first actions upon assuming office in 2021 was to issue a mandate requiring two-thirds of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2032 despite the technological limits and economic risks.

Proponents of the mandate claim that EVs will boost the economy by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, which they claim will put money in consumers’ pockets, as reported by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. They also point to job creation through the development of necessary EV infrastructure.

Opponents of the mandate claim the opposite is true. EVs are currently more expensive to purchase, and the shift in manufacturing could lead to significant job losses, as reported by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).

“Requiring Americans to buy electric vehicles they do not want has serious consequences for American workers,” a research report from AFPI reads. “The Biden Administration plans to require electric vehicles to make up two-thirds of motor vehicle sales by 2032 — a more than tenfold increase in EV market share. This would eliminate many existing auto manufacturing jobs.”

Researchers claimed the automotive manufacturing sector would lose about 117,000 jobs under the Biden plan, and the job losses would be especially concentrated in three states: Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

Job losses have already begun, according to the AFPI report. Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis have laid off workers over the last few years as the manufacturers transition to new manufacturing processes.

Further job losses are likely in the energy sector under the mandate. Reuters reported that about 5 million jobs in the fossil fuels sector could be lost by 2030 due to the shift to renewable energy.

Still, the World Economic Forum stated that renewables lead to job growth, just not in the United States. In 2022, 79% of renewable jobs were in Asia, with many related to the manufacture of photovoltaic cells that are often exported for sale.

China also employs a significant number of workers in its lithium mines and lithium processing centers. Lithium is vital for the production of electric batteries.

The rush to transition to EVs in the United States may have inadvertently led to a greater reliance on China. One issue facing the United States is how difficult it is to open a mine in the country, something that is not lost on at least one senator.

“I’m surprised that hasn’t come up today. Isn’t that a part of this discussion, to be sure? Because we can’t afford 14 years to permit a lithium mine to support the EV industry, 85 percent [in Q4 2022] of the lithium [batteries] we’re now using comes from China. That is downright dangerous,” said U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) in December of last year during a discussion on permit reform.

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