Issues & Insights

Biden Promises To Outlaw Gas-Powered Cars If Elected President

I&I Editorial

Joe Biden’s $2 trillion climate change plan, released this week, was described by one liberal outlet as “the Green New Deal, minus the crazy.” We beg to differ. Just look at Biden’s plan to eliminate the internal combustion engine.

Biden says that on his first day in office, he will develop “rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions.”

He hasn’t said exactly when he wants new cars to be all-electric, but House Democrats have already established a timetable. Their new climate change plan calls for mandating 100% “clean” vehicles by 2035.

Keep in mind that as of today, plug-in electrics account for 0.5% of cars on the road, and made up less than 2% of new vehicles sold in 2019. And that’s despite massive public subsidies that have cost taxpayers $5 billion in credits to — mostly wealthy — EV buyers.

Clearly, consumers are not that interested in plug-ins, which is why Biden and his fellow Democrats want to force electric cars on everyone in the name of climate change.

Aside from fuel economy mandates, Biden also wants to extend and expand the EV tax credit, pump federal money into charging stations, and create a new “cash for clunkers” program for those who trade in a gasoline-powered car for a plug-in.

The cost of all this? Who knows. Aside from the $2 trillion price tag that Biden put on his entire Green New Deal plan, he hasn’t broken down his EV mandate scheme. But Sen. Chuck Schumer has already proposed a cash-for-clunkers plan, which would cost $454 billion over a decade.

And for all this, the electric car mandate will have a negligible impact on CO2 emissions and zero impact on the climate.

For one thing, the CO2 advantage of electric cars is vastly oversold. These are not “zero emissions” vehicles. They simply change the source of the emissions from the car to power plants — most of them powered by coal and natural gas.

A study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that when you factor in CO2 emissions from electricity production, the average plug-in produces as much CO2 over its lifetime as a gas-powered car that gets 55 miles per gallon.

The CO2 advantage of electric cars diminishes even more when you consider the entire lifecycle of the vehicle, including the environmental impact of mining required to manufacture the batteries. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that CO2 emissions from manufacturing electric cars was 68% higher than gas-powered cars.

When you add it up, the impact on the climate is zero. A report from the Manhattan Institute notes that even if every car on the road were replaced with electric vehicles by 2050, “the resulting reduction in CO2 emissions would be less than 500 million tons per year.” That reduction, it says “will have no measurable impact on world climate.”

The rest of Biden’s environmental plan is equally untethered from reality. Take his proposal to have all the nation’s electricity produced by “clean” fuels by 2035.

Today, 20% of electricity comes from renewable sources. The Energy Information Administration says that based on current trends, that will increase to 32% by 2035 and 38% by 2050.

That’s a long way from 100%.

Plus, a fifth of today’s renewable energy comes from hydroelectric power, which has been declining as a source of energy in part because environmentalists hate dams. Another 43% comes from biomass, which environmentalists also consider dirty.

As the Natural Resources Defense Council put it, “biomass energy damages our climate and air, our forests, and our communities while the industry hides behind veils of misinformation.

That leaves solar and wind, which are massive land hogs. Proposed solar plants in Virginia would eat up 490 square miles of land — which would be like covering all of Los Angeles in solar panels. A single 50 turbine wind farm requires 23 square miles, notes Real Clear Investigations. Both energy sources are uneconomical without generous government subsidies.

Then there’s Biden’s promise that the entire U.S. economy will produce zero carbon emissions by 2050.

When the Heritage Foundation tried to calculate the economic impact of the carbon taxes needed to cut CO2 emissions by just more than half, it crashed their economic model.

The Green New Deal was never about saving the planet. It’s always been about the left’s desire to gain control of every aspect of our economy and our lives. Biden’s version might be a modestly watered-down version of the one proposed by socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but it’s hardly any less crazy.

Update: A “fact-checking” site took issue with the headline of this editorial, claiming it was false, which led Facebook to put a warning label on our post claiming the same thing. We took issue with that in a follow-up editorial. We’d also note that since this editorial posted, Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris is co-sponsor of a bill — The Zero Emission Vehicles Act — that would ban the sale of gas-powered car sales starting in 2040.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Democrats Clean Energy Climate Policy follows Germany’s Failed Climate Plan -Higher energy costs for Americans are eminent along with worldwide ecological degradation and human right abuses mining for wind, solar, and EV materials. The Democrats’ Climate Policy is cloning the disastrous efforts first tried by Germany that has produced the highest costs of electricity in the world for Germany’s residents. With America representing a minuscule five percent of the world’s population the Democrats remain oblivious to the United Nations warnings about the negative consequences of the shift toward exotic minerals and metals for wind, solar, and EV batteries, which includes worldwide ecological degradation and atrocious human rights abuses.

  • Old Horse and Buggy Biden! LOL! He’ll make jobs by bringing back the buggy whip industry.

  • “Dementia Joe” is full of horse manure! Actually, it’s his handlers who are! “Dementia Joe” can’t remember to zip his fly after taking a pee! But….eliminating gas powered cars? A campaign promise of “Dementia Joe?” Uh huh!

  • I don’t understand why people don’t get this. All of this is not about improving people’s lives, lifting people out of poverty, building great things, and moving society forward. It is all incremental activities to move wealth out of those that generate it, into the hands of those who have power but contribute nothing. Take the wealth from the middle class and give it to the layabouts, making the country either poor people or wealthy people who are connected and in charge. The Left wants you to believe that is the way it is NOW, but it isn’t. However, as it moves in that direction, it is always because of leftist ideas and power grabs. As opportunity is destroyed, the creators and the entrepreneurs are marginalized, and government controls more and more, you get the old Soviet Union. The people on top there got all the good stuff that could be squeezed out of the working class, and imported from other countries, and the typical doctor, road worker, accountant, and engineer lived in crummy small apartments with shared bathrooms. For “the people”, right Comrade?

  • IS there any wonder that there is no market for light and medium duty vehicles? No one wants them. Leave it to Democrats to make someone no one wants and then force people to use it.

  • you’ll need a wind field bigger than the continent of Europe to power the new electric vehicles…fossil fuel production reduction. how will that be replaced? just catch phrases to attract moronic twenty somethings

  • Biden would certasinly be busy with everything he is going to change on his first day in office.
    He will probably be subject to more lawsuits than Trump and with the over 200 conservative federal district and appellate court judges appointed by Trump he will have an uphill fight in the courts.

  • The only reason I don’t drive a plug in hybrid right now is that Iowa dealerships refuse to sell them.

    • @ Bud Henderson. You do realize that if we were to lose the gird, an electric car would be totally worthless? I mean someone can buy tanks and store gas and diesel, but an electric car is dead in the water the minute the grid goes down.

  • Your title is false. Regulations “aimed at ensuring” through incremental improvements in some future time replacing *new* sales of light- and medium-duty petroleum-powered vehicles with electric or hydrogen fuel cell-powered ones (both of which are “zero emissions”) is hardly a promise “to outlaw gas-powered cars.”

    You may wish to spread propaganda by misleading your readership, but that is hardly in line with your claim that you “use our accumulated wisdom to help our readers better understand the events shaping the country.” Providing false information is worsening, not bettering, understanding.

    • In the interest of brevity, we didn’t add in that Biden would outlaw “the sale of new” gas-powered cars in the headline. But the editorial makes it clear what he’s proposing. As to the claim that we are providing “false information” and “misleading your readership,” what exactly is the difference between imposing regulations designed specifically to forbid the sale of gas cars — which is precisely what Biden says he will do — and outlawing them, other than semantics?

    • So…ZERO EMISSIONS means that gas-powered cars will still be okay….okay, uh-huh, sure.

  • We all know how democrats lead; rules for thee, but not for me.
    So, what kind of cars do Ole Joe and his family drive currently lead by example]? Answers to this would equate to ‘good reporting’. How difficult is this information to come by?

  • I’m tired of career politicians making pronouncements about how we should live our lives.
    The issue of climate change is full of holes and missed doomsday forecasts despite the claimed “consensus”.

  • Of course Biden wouldn’t have the authority to outlaw gas powered cars but it probably excites the tree hugging loons in his party.

  • If any of this socialist utopia agenda were to come to be, there would be a revolution in the US. I hope the anti-gun left starts buying guns. They are going to need them. Maybe that is just what the country needs to reset reality.

  • And not mentioned is that our electrical grid -much of it older than 50 years – is strained already. Adding additional load in Biden’s dream world would crash it.

  • Electric cars are not, as introduced, the great environmental boon leftards believe they are. Consider that it takes, say, 7 cents worth of gasoline–4 ounces or so–to drive a car one mile. To produce a battery that pushes a car one mile before, after many recharges, ultimately expiring so far costs much more and, even factoring in energy expended in producing gasoline, results in a lot more pollution. And yet you hear ‘green’ types running around saying they have virtually ‘free’ energy.

  • Par for the course from those who bitterly cling to the failed political philosophy of a 19th century German rat bum.
    The Great Leap Forward Fundamental Transformation will take us back to the primitive.
    Our external enemies will just sit back and laugh while they consolidate gains in their sphere of influence.
    Who will the comrades blame when the golden utopia is a big steaming pile of FAIL?

  • Let’s all just ignore the fact that CO2 has absolutely nothing to do with the regular cyclical climate changes that the planet has been going through since it was formed.

  • Idiotic! That only leaves electric cars and a few questionable technologies that are expensive. My generators are diesel natural gas capable but are internal combustion. Trucks, tractors, construction equipment, combines, many ships and tug boats, as well as recreational boats. Stupidity at its best…..The technology of internal combustion engines have improved drastically every few years getting better fuel economy and more power. Seems like they don’t understand how expensive it would be to even change, nor how things work..Duh!

  • Joe: “You guys sure this pandering will bring in the old hippies and the young socialists?”
    DNC: “Always has, always will. Tell ’em how smart they are…”

  • A snippet from:

    “Mats-Ola Larsson at IVL has calculated how long you need to drive a gasoline or diesel car before it released as much CO2 as the battery manufacturing produced. The result was 2.7 years of CO2 emissions for a battery the same size as a Nissan Leaf and 8.2 years for a Tesla-sized battery, based on a series of assumptions.”

    And this CO2 release into the atmosphere involves only the actual manufacturing of the battery… before the car’s driver even buys the vehicle… not the ongoing release of CO2 by municipal power plants to produce the electricity to charge and recharge the vehicle a bazillion times, said process also requiring increased power plant output as more electric cars hit the road. It’s a trap, and the blissful ignorant walk right in.

  • Two comments:
    1. The current major source of lithium – ion batteries is China. Do we really want to hand over another big part of our economy to the PRC?
    2. Anyone who suffers from a seizure disorder has to be very careful about being around (in line of sight of) a wind farm. The flickering of light levels (strobing) from the rotating blades can cause attacks. There have been reports as well about people being affected by the rhythmic air pressure variations cause by the rotating blades as well.

  • Is there anyone here who actually thinks that having a Democrat in office is a good thing?

  • Today, America has less than 5% of the world’s population (330 million vs. 8 billion). Electricity from renewables are incapable of providing the fuels and petroleum derivatives that “make products and move things” to support worldwide economies.

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!
%d bloggers like this: