The Biden administration on Thursday allowed California to force heavy duty truck operators to switch to electric vehicles, a policy critics say will further burden an already strained grid and raise food and energy prices.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D.) request to phase in a ban on diesel trucks and semi-tractors, which will require all heavy-duty vehicles be electric by 2045. Experts say the ban, part of the Golden State’s attempt to shift appliances to the electric grid, will make life more expensive for Californians.
"It’s a fantasy type of policy that is not grounded on where the current technology is," Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon. "It’s irresponsible because it will hurt people economically, raise the cost of shipping goods in the state and further destabilize the electric grid."
The vehicle ban comes as residents grapple with some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. Prices rose nearly 15 percent last year alone and have increased some 80 percent since 2008, when the state began its mandated pivot toward renewable energy. Along with higher prices, the intensifying reliance on electricity has strained the grid and threatened blackouts.
Newsom praised the Biden administration’s approval as a "big deal for climate action."
"We’re leading the charge to get dirty trucks and buses—the most polluting vehicles—off our streets, and other states and countries are lining up to follow our lead around the world," the governor said in a statement, noting that nearly 20 percent of new car sales were electric thanks to the "billions" in subsidies California is offering residents to buy them.
As the Newsom administration touts its accelerated overhaul of state energy systems, Californians are bracing for their high daily costs to keep rising. Earlier this month, San Diego Gas & Electric sought a rate increase of $3.6 billion over four years. PG&E, the state’s largest utility operator, has requested a 16 percent increase.
Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions from state power plants have increased, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Energy Department has warned that officials shouldn’t measure electric vehicles’ carbon footprint in tailpipe emissions alone but also in the cost of mining and manufacturing batteries.
According to Winegarden, California’s rapid transition to renewable energy is unsustainable. He pointed to European countries that quickly ditched fossil fuels, only to turn back to coal and natural gas when faced with energy shortages. Some European countries have even begun burning what’s left of their ancient forests for fuel.
California Democrats want to ban all non-electric truck sales by 2040.