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DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH: The Hypocrisy Of The Left On Energy Policy

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Democrats say they represent working Americans, but their energy policies tell another story. President Joe Biden’s environmental regulations are focused on slowing fossil-fuel development and promoting electrification, resulting in higher prices for electricity, cars and gasoline.

Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is holding hearings to support Biden’s efforts. I testified at one this week that poor and middle-class Americans are disproportionately paying the price. (RELATED: HANKE And YATACO-CHATAIN: China Holds All The Cards In The Great Green Energy Game)

The goal of the Biden regulations is to mitigate climate change, described by the president in his February State of the Union Address as “an existential threat.” But if American energy-intensive production and manufacturing with their associated emissions are simply displaced to China and other poorer countries, global temperatures will not change.

To comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposed rules to regulate auto emissions, 60% of vehicle sales would have to be battery-powered electric in 2030, and 67% in 2032. The agency is considering rules that would make electricity production more expensive by reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

As well as being more costly, electric cars take 45 minutes to recharge and lose battery range in cold climates. On average households in the lowest fifth of the income distribution have one car, while those in the top fifth have three cars. Families with two cars can have an electric car for short trips and a gasoline-powered car for longer trips, but poor households don’t have that luxury.

These regulations would make new and used cars disproportionately more expensive for the poor and middle-class people, who can least afford them. And the cost of charging the required electric vehicles would rise too.


To produce the solar panels, wind turbines and electric batteries demanded by the West, China is increasing its construction of coal-fired power plants. America has 225 coal-fired power plants, and China has more than 1,000 (half of all the coal-fired plants in the world). China has not committed to reducing emissions before 2027.

Research by Kevin Dayaratna, chief statistician and senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, using an EPA model, has shown that even completely eliminating all fossil fuels from the United States would result in less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in temperature mitigation by 2100.

Auto workers endorsed President Biden in 2020, not knowing that new EPA regulations on automobile emissions would require electric cars. Americans’ auto jobs are being sacrificed to Chinese workers (including slave and child labor) making batteries and mining for rare earth minerals.

Last week Stellantis, after closing an Illinois plant in December, announced that it would be cutting 3,500 jobs in Detroit due to its forced transition to electric vehicles. GM and Ford are also laying off workers.

United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain said on April 26, “This is a slap in the face to our members, their families, their communities, and the American people who saved this company 15 years ago,” United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain said on April 26. “Even now, politicians and taxpayers are bankrolling the electric vehicle transition.”

Requirements for renewable energy mean that Americans’ oil and gas jobs are being sacrificed to Chinese making wind turbines and solar panels, even though wind and solar power produce less than 6% of U.S. domestic primary energy consumption.

As the federal government spends billions on connecting wind and solar to the electricity grid, people’s electric bills rise. Households in the lowest fifth of the income distribution spend 10 percent of their after-tax income on electricity, natural gas, and motor and heating fuels, but people in the top fifth spend an average of 1 percent. International aid organizations don’t lend for nuclear or many fossil fuel projects in emerging economics, with the result that many of the world’s poor remain without reliable electricity, clean water, and sewage systems.

Poor Americans are paying the price for Democrats’ plans to transition away from fossil fuels in the name of a cleaner environment. They are paying more for cars and electricity, and they are losing their jobs. But global emissions won’t be reduced if industrial production leaves America and sets up in China.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is Director of the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct professor of economics at George Washington University.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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