Senators Ramp Up EV Pushback

Biden Administration Agenda Raising Bipartisan Concerns
John Barrasso
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is lead sponsor for the Recalculating Electric Vehicle Efficiency for Accuracy and Legitimacy Act. (Mariam Zuhaib/Associated Press)

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Senior Republicans in the Senate are again taking aim at the Biden administration’s promotion of electric vehicles, the latest move in Congress’ persistent pushback on efforts to compel businesses and everyday drivers to transition away from vehicles powered by fossil fuels.

The administration also is facing pressure from Democrats for a lack of progress on buildout of charging infrastructure.

A group of senators recently introduced legislation that would require the Energy Department to rely on a set of specific criteria when calculating the efficiency electric vehicles. The effort, called the Recalculating Electric Vehicle Efficiency for Accuracy and Legitimacy Act, calls into question the department’s calculation related to petroleum-equivalent average fuel economy specific to electric vehicles. The senators note the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses that data to set corporate average fuel economy standards.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He and his fellow sponsors argue their intent is to prevent a misinformed mandate for electric vehicle adoption.

“No administration should be able to rig efficiency calculations for electric cars,” he said June 11. “The REVEAL Act would prevent the secretary of energy from using these faulty calculations to prohibit the sale of gas- or diesel-powered cars or trucks. This is a needed step to help fight against the Biden administration’s continued manipulation of the auto market and put Americans back in the driver’s seat.”

“For years, federal agencies have exaggerated the fuel efficiency of EVs to artificially promote their adoption by American drivers. It’s time to hold our government accountable and ensure Utahns have accurate information to choose the best vehicle for their needs — not the preferences of Washington bureaucrats,” added Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a co-lead sponsor along with Sens. James Risch of Idaho, John Cassidy of Louisiana, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and John Hoeven of North Dakota.

Specifically, the legislation would require the secretary of energy to ensure the weight and class of EVs are comparable to gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles when arriving at petroleum-equivalent fuel economy calculations for EVs. According to background information the sponsors provided, the bill also would require officials to evaluate dynamics linked to EV batteries and establish coordination with the secretary of transportation for some calculations related to Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which dictate fuel efficiency benchmarks for passenger vehicles.

The fact that we passed this bill years ago and not one charging station has been built in my state and only seven, as you put it, seven sites around the country — that is a vast administrative failure.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Jeff Merkley

“The benefits of EVs appear illusionary at best, and our bill forces this administration to be transparent by compelling the DOE to more accurately measure the relative efficiency of EVs so the Biden administration can no longer hide behind its unsubstantiated environmental platitudes,” added Lummis, a member of the Senate’s surface transportation and freight panels.

The legislation, referred to a committee for consideration, builds on repeated efforts by mostly senior lawmakers to assess the Biden administration’s progress on EVs as well as emerging transportation technologies. Such concerns are gaining bipartisan distinction on Capitol Hill.

During a Senate hearing this month, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) took issue with the administration’s EV implementation mandated by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The Oregon Democrat called “pathetic” the pace of a $5 billion IIJA initiative’s rollout to develop a network of EV charging stations.

EV charging stations

ChargePoint EV charging stations along U.S. Route 50 in Lamar, Colo. (Rachel Ellis/Bloomberg News) 

“The fact that we passed this bill years ago and not one charging station has been built in my state and only seven, as you put it, seven sites around the country — that is a vast administrative failure,” Merkley told Federal Highway Administration leader Shailen Bhatt at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing this month. “I’m trying to say that people become very cynical when a vision is laid out, a vision is finally passed by Congress and then nothing gets done. Let’s move more quickly.”

Tom Carper


EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) acknowledged the growing bipartisan concerns related to EVs and pledged to consider scheduling a hearing to remedy problems specific to charging stations. The $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program created by the IIJA is meant to provide funding to deploy EV infrastructure, according to background information from FHWA. Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Bhatt expressed optimism: “We’re not where we obviously all want to be. But in terms of the president’s goal, we’re on track to hit that.”

More than 100 congressional Republicans formalized their opposition to the administration’s efforts to promote EVs in the marketplace. Sens. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) and John James (R-Mich.) led a procedural measure known as a Congressional Review Act resolution that would pause new federal emissions rules for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles. The resolution is beginning to gain bipartisan appeal.


Corey Cox of the Tandet Group of companies discusses how early AI adopters are beginning to harvest the latest wave. Tune in above or by going to  

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule to drastically increase zero-emission vehicles by 2032. Trucking industry stakeholders have repeatedly raised concerns about the administration’s agenda. Executives have argued that equipped with realistic timelines from regulators, the industry would be positioned for a better transition toward electrification.

Chris Spear


“To be clear: the trucking industry is not opposed to battery-electric vehicles. Some fleets are testing them, and the initial results are mixed at best,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said in a May statement. “What’s abundantly clear from early adopters of this technology is that the hurdles to widescale adoption are so massive and undeniable that target and timelines mandated by ... EPA and the California Air Resources Board can be described as nothing more than utterly disconnected from reality.”

Relatedly, the administration’s Joint Office of Energy and Transportation unveiled a road map to incrementally reduce emissions through 2040. Administration officials said the strategy will assist with advancing the adoption of zero-emission Class 8 trucks.

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