Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promised campaign supporters in New Hampshire on Monday to roll back a slate of President Biden’s economic policies, including his proposal to phase out the sales of new gas-powered vehicles.
The 2024 Republican presidential candidate said a DeSantis administration would “save the American automobile” by undoing an Environmental Protection Agency proposal — should it go into effect — to curb emissions by forcing automakers to sell primarily electric vehicles by 2030.
“We are going to reverse the policies of Biden that’s trying to force Americans to buy electric vehicles. That’s your choice if you want to do it,” Mr. DeSantis said. “But I can tell you, most of the stuff that goes into those electric vehicles is made in China. Why would you want to knowingly make this country more dependent on what goes on in China?”
He continued: “We will make sure that we ditch those regs, and we will save the American automobile in this country.”
His comments marked the latest instance where Mr. DeSantis has clashed head-on with EVs and Mr. Biden’s broader green energy agenda as he courts GOP voters across the country for the Republican presidential nomination.
In June, Mr. DeSantis vetoed a bill, even though it was Republican-sponsored and had passed near unanimously, that would have required that the state purchase vehicles based on lifetime operating costs rather than fuel efficiency. That rule would have given a huge leg up to EVs.
At a town hall last week in New Hampshire, Mr. DeSantis touted his refusal to accept some $375 million in funding from the Biden administration under Democrats’ tax-and-climate spending law known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
The federal funds would have tried to reduce carbon emissions by providing rebates on sales of electric-powered appliances rather than ones powered by gas and other fossil fuels.
The EV targets proposed by the EPA would take effect in 2027 with the expectation of automakers to have 60% of their sales be electric vehicles by 2030 and 67% by 2032. California and other blue states like New Jersey are seeking to take the potential regulation a step further by requiring EVs in their states to account for 100% of new sales by 2035.
The EPA’s desired rules are raising cost and feasibility concerns from the auto industry. EVs accounted for less than 6% of new vehicles sold in 2022.
Mr. DeSantis also addressed his cozy relationship with Tesla’s Elon Musk and any concerns he may have with the EV-mogul’s business with China because of the country’s dominance over rare-earth minerals, which are needed in EV batteries.
Mr. DeSantis has made combating the communist nation a pillar of his campaign.
“I think if you ask him, I think he’s acknowledged that we need to do more of the rare-earth minerals here in the United States, or at least in countries that are not as averse to us,” Mr. DeSantis said of Mr. Musk. “I certainly recognize that, and I think that that’s something that our China policy is going to look to address. That will take time. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but we got to do that.”
Mr. DeSantis went on to say that while he feels Tesla “creates really good product,” consumers should not be forced to ditch gas-powered cars.
“It’s not necessarily something that I would be able to afford or would want, but I get people like it. But to make the Fords and the GMs do all this for electric, you are not going to see the demand for that,” he said.
He also noted the fact that electric vehicles use electricity — and that can pose problems.
“I get a kick out of California,” he said. “They announced … all new sales in California must be electric. Then two days later, they say, ‘all electric vehicle owners — don’t plug in your car because we have problems with the power grid.’ Are you kidding me? Good grief. Let’s get real here.”