Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, 2021 arguing that California and the Biden administration’s attempt to impose state electric car quotas violate federal law. He writes,

To promote efficiency, federal law broadly forbids state regulations “related to fuel economy standards.” Courts have held that this law forbids electric-car quotas and similarly meddlesome command-and-control policies that seek to dictate how car makers should meet federal performance standards. The Golden State argues that a special exception made for California regulations in the Clean Air Act should also be read into the federal fuel-economy law. But that law’s text says no. It forbids fuel-economy regulation by any state—no exceptions.

This is more than a mere legal technicality. Violating the law here has damaging consequences to the American public and American international interests. Gray writes,

The zero-emission vehicle standard is in effect a hidden regressive tax paid by ordinary car buyers to subsidize luxury cars for the wealthy. It takes $400 from the wallets of low- and moderate-income car buyers and hands it over primarily to six-figure-income electric car buyers, who enjoy many other subsidies, too.

Less directly, the electric-car quota fuels African child labor, conscripted to mine the minerals used in electric-car batteries. And because China dominates those battery supply chains, state quotas will speed up the exodus of blue-collar manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio to coal-powered Chinese plants, undermining the environmental rationale for the quotas.

The full editorial, entitled Electric Car Quotas Have a High Cost, is available here.