Biden’s Unconfirmed Climate Crusader Puts Gas Cars In Jeopardy

Ann Carlson, an environmentalist academic from UCLA and President Biden’s first pick to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), continues to shape climate policy even after failing Senate confirmation. Now acting as the agency’s unofficial leader, Carlson is renowned for championing lifestyle changes and stricter governmental policies to combat climate change.

Last week, under Carlson’s supervision, NHTSA released new fuel efficiency standards, which are designed to “reduce harmful emissions.” They prioritize electric vehicles (EVs) and push gas-powered cars to the side. The measures may increase the cost of vehicles so much that EVs may become the only viable financial option for many American families.

This move, however, is not surprising. Carlson has long advocated for forcing Americans into more environmentally-friendly lifestyles. In 2007, she penned “Only by Requiring Lifestyle Changes,” asserting that people will not willingly reduce their energy consumption without government intervention. Her 2009 blog post, “Save Us From Ourselves,” pleaded for Americans to consume less and simplify their lives for the sake of the environment. She further expressed that people “could benefit from a simpler life” but wouldn’t “engage in dramatic behavioral change unless forced.” This call for government intrusion into our everyday lives gives us a clear glimpse into her ideology.

Despite Republicans labeling her “an environmentalist without traffic safety experience,” Carlson remains unswayed. She plans to use her NHTSA post as a conduit for pushing climate policies. Her steadfastness in using the NHTSA as a climate change platform raises eyebrows, given that the agency’s mission is to reduce road traffic accidents and improve safety standards.

The irony here is not lost on the American people or industry groups. The United Auto Workers, a liberal labor union that endorsed Biden, has opposed the proposals, stating that they will lead to job losses and price hikes. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing the world’s top automakers, also echoes these sentiments. According to an Associated Press poll published in April, fewer than one-fifth of Americans say they’re very likely to buy an electric vehicle as their next car, indicating that the public is not on board with Biden and Carlson’s EV push.

Why is an unconfirmed nominee, rejected by the Senate, still in a position to shape climate policy? Critics argue this overreach flies in the face of the democratic process. Carlson’s continued leadership of the NHTSA indicates the lengths to which the Biden administration will go to further its climate agenda, even if it means circumventing the checks and balances of our political system.