Proposals to Ban Non-Electric Vehicle Sales are Economically and Logistically Unsound

As progressive politicians rush to prove their environmental credentials with aggressive anti-energy proposals, some governors are considering bans on non-electric vehicle sales. Others have already ordered them. In a recent RealClearEnergy op-ed, attorney and former Oklahoma Corporation Commission chairman Patrice Douglas explains why plans to force electric vehicle purchases are destined to fail.

California Governor Gavin Newsom made waves in September when he announced that sales of non-electric vehicles would be banned statewide in 2035. Less than a month later, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy hinted that he might do the same. Douglas argues that:

“Despite the political appeal, these initiatives come with great costs to us as taxpayers and consumers… The economic and social challenges associated with their actualization renders these proposals premature at best and broadly detrimental and self-defeating at worst.”

The most obvious of those challenges is cost. Electric vehicles are unaffordable for many Americans and policies designed to incentivize their purchasing only benefit the wealthy. According to Douglas:

In 2016, 83% of EV tax credits were claimed by individual taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of over $100,000, which as a group represent only 17% of the US population.”

Any ban on non-electric vehicle sales would further disadvantage the overwhelming majority of people who rely on them.

Cost and economic inequality are not the only issues that have been overlooked. Even if electric vehicles were affordable, infrastructure requirements would still present a major challenge. Installing charging stations across entire states would be a logistical nightmare, and making them functional would require dramatically expanded power grids – all while also working to aggressively phase-out traditional energy sources like natural gas. Douglas explains:

“Such significant updates to the power grid would require not only decades of planning, engineering and construction, but also billions and billions of ratepayer and consumer dollars.”

For these reasons and others, the rapid adoption of electric vehicles is little more than a political pipe dream with dangerous economic implications. Douglas concludes:

“A range of legitimate options exist for modernizing energy production and transportation, but none of them entail government-imposed phase-outs on gasoline-fueled vehicles. Governors like Newsom, Murphy, and others inclined to follow their lead would do well to eschew current proposals and adopt an all-of-the-above energy strategy that generates progress through innovation and a diverse mix of energy sources and technologies.”