The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the strictest-ever tailpipe emissions rule this week. The new emissions standards are likely to push electric vehicle (EV) adoption faster than technology and consumers are ready.

Under the finalized rule, “EVs could account for up to 56% of new passenger vehicles,” in model years 2030 to 2032. Another 16% will be hybrids, leaving only 29% of new passenger vehicle sales with internal combustion engines. That is a significant improvement from the draft rule, which would have needed about 67% of automakers’ new passenger sales to be EVs by 2032. Yet, the ultimate goal remains the same: to rid the roads of gas-powered cars.

Politico claims “the rule does not mandate any specific level of electric vehicle sales,” but the only means of complying with such a strict standard will be increasing EV sales—and the Biden administration knows it. There’s a reason the proposed rule shot for sales “an order of magnitude” greater than current EV sales levels. 

The final rule’s adjusted EV targets are “still a stretch goal,” according to the President of the Automotive Alliance Association. It’s hardly a victory for consumer choice and free markets that the government imposes the same amount of damage, only more slowly. 

Fuel economy standards are met through average fuel efficiency across an automaker’s entire fleet of new vehicles, not individual vehicles. Rather than incrementally improving fuel efficiency across all vehicles in an automaker’s fleet, manufacturers simply ramp up EV production. This is likely to be exacerbated if the Department of Energy finalizes a rule that would decrease the fuel economy values of EVs, which would require even more EVs to be sold. 

Consumers remain skeptical of EV technology. They worry that their EV won’t take them the distance they need to go, especially if cold weather drains their battery. They worry they won’t find a charger when they need it and that the charging will take too long. It’s no wonder EV sales are growing slower than expected

It’s not clear that widespread EV adoption would reduce emissions anyway. Mining the large amount and variety of critical minerals needed for 1,000-pound EV batteries creates emissions. Sourcing them remains a security challenge, as critical minerals are overwhelmingly mined and processed in foreign countries. Charging those batteries from non-renewable electricity sources creates emissions. 

The rule could even incentivize consumers to hold onto their older, less fuel-efficient gas-powered cars for longer if the price of EVs remains unattainable for a typical American—as they are today. An average electric vehicle cost $58,000 in 2023; for context, median household income in 2022 was about $75,000. EVs are luxuries: the average owner of a new Tesla earns an annual income of $150,000

It is unclear if the EPA has the authority to issue such a sweeping rule, especially if it cannot point to “clear congressional authorization,” for deciding on a policy with such economic and political significance. Sen. Pete Ricketts (R., Nebr) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) plan to introduce legislation to review the rule under the Congressional Review Act.