President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant

President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant in Detroit on November 17, 2021.

(Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Green Groups Slam 'Harmful' GOP Vote to Kill Biden Clean Vehicle Rule

"House GOP leaders should be ashamed for trying to thwart the EPA, and its authority under the Clean Air Act, to limit dangerous and deadly pollution," said one campaigner.

Climate and environmental campaigners on Wednesday bristled as the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to block a proposed Biden administration rule meant to accelerate the transition from gasoline-powered to electric automobiles.

House lawmakers voted 221-197, almost entirely along party lines, in favor of H.R. 4468, the so-called Choice in Automobile Retail Sales Act of 2023. The office of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) claimed the bill "stops President [Joe] Biden's agenda to force Americans to drive electric vehicles, which will cede our auto future to China."

However, Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of New York condemned the measure during a House floor speech Wednesday, asserting that "we should be putting our clean energy standards in overdrive to protect consumers and our planet, not reversing course on vital electric vehicle policies."

"We should be putting our clean energy standards in overdrive to protect consumers and our planet, not reversing course on vital electric vehicle policies."

When the Biden administration unveiled its proposed clean transportation standard in April, progressive critics argued that it did not go far enough. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects that under the most robust version of its proposal—which, if implemented, would take effect in 2027—electric vehicles could account for two-thirds of all new U.S. light-duty automobile sales by the 2032 model year. Last year, just 6% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were electric.

A coalition of green groups slammed H.R. 4468 this week, writing to congressional leaders that "rather than recognize the twin crises of unmitigated climate change and public health impacts from transportation pollution and the transition to zero-emission vehicles underway, this bill aims to stem the tide of progress towards clean air and a healthy future."

"We need to move forward," the groups added, "not backward."

Margie Alt, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Climate Action Campaign, said in a statement that "today's vote on H.R. 4468 is a cynical and tremendously harmful attempt by some in Congress to placate their deep-pocketed fossil fuel executive and lobbyist allies."

"House GOP leaders should be ashamed for trying to thwart the EPA, and its authority under the Clean Air Act, to limit dangerous and deadly pollution from light duty and medium duty vehicles and trucks," she continued. "Cleaner cars standards protect all Americans from the significant respiratory and other health impacts of tailpipe pollution, not to mention limit the impacts of the climate crisis from a key source of climate pollution."

"Vehicle pollution endangers millions of Americans," Alt added, "particularly vulnerable Americans living near highways and high-traffic corridors."

H.R. 4468 has little chance of passing the Senate and even if it did, the White House has signaled that Biden will veto the measure. The White House Office of Management and Budget said Monday that the GOP proposal "would catastrophically impair EPA's ability to issue automotive regulations that protect public health, save consumers money, strengthen American energy security, and protect American investments in the vehicle technologies of the future."

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday also advanced a raft of what GOP leaders called "American energy solutions" that critics slammed as damaging to the climate, environment, Indigenous rights, and frontline communities. These bills include H.R. 6009, a measure introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) that would force taxpayers to foot the bill for cleaning up oil and gas wells on federal lands.

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