Profits, Not Environment, Are Driving EV Adoption in California and Oregon, Experts Claim

By Katie Spence
Katie Spence
Katie Spence
Katie covers energy and politics for The Epoch Times. Before starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force as an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She obtained her degree in Analytic Philosophy and a minor in Cognitive Studies from the University of Colorado. Katie’s writing has appeared on CNSNews.com, The Maverick Observer, The Motley Fool, First Quarter Finance, The Cheat Sheet, and Investing.com. Email her at katie.spence@epochtimes.us
September 6, 2022 Updated: September 8, 2022

California’s ban on gasoline-powered vehicles doesn’t start until 2035, but that hasn’t stopped left-leaning states such as Oregon and Washington from jumping to join the movement.

Oregon said it will update its Advanced Clean Cars II law proposal to include a gas-powered vehicle ban in 2035; Washington said it would adopt a version of California’s rule by year’s end.

California’s argument for the ban is that gas-powered vehicles contribute to climate change, while electric vehicles are “environmentally friendly” because they’re “zero-emission vehicles.”

Electric vehicles are only “zero-emissions” at point-of-use, and the components of lithium-ion batteries are hazardous to the environment.

State governments are essentially forcing electric vehicle adoption in the face of negative environmental effects. Some critics, such as John Hadder, director of Great Basin Resource Watch, a mining watchdog group, point to profits as the reason.

“There may be other batteries or technologies such as fuel cells that are being sidelined by industrialists who care mostly about profits than what is in the public good,” Hadder told The Epoch Times.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 11, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Automotive Lobby Group Pushes Electric Car Sales

In 2020, overall car sales fell by 16 percent. However, according to the International Energy Agency,electric vehicle sales reached a record 3 million, an increase of 40 percent from a year earlier.

Further,electric vehicle sales represent a more profitable venture for auto manufacturers and car dealers. On July 12, Kelley Blue Book reported that the average cost of anelectric vehicle was more than $66,000, while the price for an average gas-powered vehicle was nearly $44,000—a $22,000 difference.

In its April 2021 report, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a Washington-based trade association and lobby group representing domestic and international auto manufacturers, lamented the slow electric vehicle (EV) adoption rate.

“Although consumer interest continues to grow … EVs only made up roughly 2 percent of new vehicle sales—or approximately 300,000 vehicles out of the 14.5 million vehicles sold [in the United States] in 2020,” the report said.

Kamala Harris charges an electric vehicle
Vice President Kamala Harris charges an electric vehicle in Prince George’s County, Md., on Dec. 13, 2021. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

To increase electric car adoption, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation suggested “a sustained, holistic approach with a broad range of legislative and regulatory policies rooted in economic, social, environmental, and cultural realities.”

To that policy and regulatory end, on Aug. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its 2023 proposed revision to vehicle standards.

“A shift to zero-emission vehicle technologies is already underway,” it states. “Major automakers, as well as many global jurisdictions and U.S. states, have announced plans to shift the light-duty fleet toward zero-emissions technology.”

Additionally, the Clean Air Act incentivizes states to follow federal requirements or adopt California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations concerning new vehicles.

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U.S. President Joe Biden drives a Hummer EV as he tours the General Motors ‘Factory ZERO’ electric vehicle assembly plant in Detroit, on Nov. 17, 2021. (Jonathan Erns/REUTERS)

Ten states have followed California’s regulations—Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The requirements include that 7 to 10 percent of new vehicles sold in 2025 must be EVs, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation reports.

But, the ZEV regulations weren’t progressive enough for California, and on Aug. 25, the California Air Resources Board voted to ban the sale of gas-powered cars completely.

Importantly, the plan takes a stepped approach to the total ban. In 2026, 35 percent of all car sales in California must be fully electric or fuel-cell vehicles; 68 percent of all car sales must be fully electric or fuel-cell by 2030, and by 2035, no new gasoline vehicles will be allowed on the market.

“Once again, California is leading the nation and the world with a regulation that sets ambitious but achievable targets for ZEV sales,” California Air Resources Board Chair Liane Randolph said. “Rapidly accelerating the number of ZEVs on our roads and highways will deliver substantial emission and pollution reductions to all Californians, especially for those who live near roadways and suffer from persistent air pollution.”

Sky-High Profits

“The global electric utility vehicle industry accounted for $8.59 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach $24.98 billion by 2031, growing at a [compounded annual growth rate] of 11.4 percent from 2022 to 2031,” according to a report titled  “Electric Utility Vehicle Market” that was published on Aug. 26 by Allied Market Research.

“The global electric vehicle market … is projected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2025,” according to a report from Wintergreen Research titled “Personal Electric Vehicle Cars: Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts Worldwide. “Unit sales are anticipated to reach 97 million vehicles worldwide by 2025.”

While estimates vary, it’s generally agreed that worldwide, the EV market will be worth trillions by 2025. And because most EVs rely on lithium-ion batteries, mining this element is lucrative, to say the least. Some estimates put the value of that market at $94.4 billion by 2025.

“There is one motivation that may even greatly surpass the clean air, climate change, and oil dependence benefits for some governments,” the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) stated in a white paper. “That is the motivation to economically benefit from manufacturing of the future electric car industry.

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With Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) looking on, President Joe Biden hands Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) the pen he used to sign into law the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 16. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Economies like Japan, Germany, and the United States, among others where there is major automobile manufacturing, have the most to lose if they do not lead in the transition to electric vehicles.”

Importantly, the paper suggests that previous “ground-up” policies—incentives, promotions, etc.—haven’t been enough to encourage EV adoption and gain market share. Consequently, governments are using “top-down” efforts—laws, regulations, etc.—to spur EV manufacturing and sales.

“The massive production scale of the auto industry makes it of critical importance in most major economies around the world because of the manufacturing jobs and the revenue involved.”

Significantly, a report on IOP Science titled “Environmental and economic impact of electric vehicle adoption in the U.S.” states, “Although BEV [Battery Electric Vehicle] adoption leads to decreases in tailpipe emissions, increased manufacturing activity as a result of productivity increases or subsidies can lead to growth in non-tailpipe emissions that cancels out some or all of the tailpipe emissions savings.”

Katie Spence
Katie covers energy and politics for The Epoch Times. Before starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force as an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She obtained her degree in Analytic Philosophy and a minor in Cognitive Studies from the University of Colorado. Katie’s writing has appeared on CNSNews.com, The Maverick Observer, The Motley Fool, First Quarter Finance, The Cheat Sheet, and Investing.com. Email her at katie.spence@epochtimes.us