President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring the federal government to step up purchase of union-made electric vehicles and other technology needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Biden signed an executive order setting new goals for the federal government to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 65% by the end of this decade, and to zero out federal emissions by 2050.
“With this order, President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts,” the White House announcement said.
“This Executive Order fulfills President Biden’s promise to make Buy American real and close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs while still qualifying for domestic preferences.”
Union jobs part of the plan
The Biden administration plans to reset the U.S. government’s longstanding approach to domestic preferences to create for growing “quality, union jobs.” Unsurprisingly, the United Auto Workers praised the move.
“President Biden rightly understands that we can address carbon emissions and turn it into an economic opportunity to preserve and create good union paying jobs of the future through federal fleet conversion and reducing the federal government’s carbon footprint,” the UAW said.
“Today’s Executive Order by President Biden seizes the opportunity to preserve, create and increase the opportunity for good union jobs for decades to come.”
The General Services Administration is already preparing to spend more than $1.5 billion on new, non-military vehicles in 2022, according to a GSA press release.
Non-union companies push back against Biden’s priorities
The Biden administration’s preference for union-made vehicles extends to potential tax credits for EV buyers, who purchase battery electric vehicles now pending before the U.S. Biden endorses the extra credits of $4,500 per union-made vehicle in the Build Back Better plan.
These credits have been repeatedly attacked by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has repeatedly taken to Twitter to attack the Biden for the favoritism being shown the UAW, which represents roughly half the auto workers in the U.S. and others.
Toyota and Volkswagen AG also have been lobbying Congress not to approve the tax credits tilted towards vehicles made by workers, who belong to a union, targeting Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), who is expected to be the key vote on the plan.
Implementing the order
Meanwhile, the GSA said it has launched a series of pilot programs, putting EVs into government service. In Boston, the U.S. Veteran’s Administration is planning to add EVs to its fleet of vehicles serving patients at VA facilities around the city.
In early 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin field testing Ford’s Mustang Mach-E ZEV, which is built in Mexico, for use in its law enforcement fleet, which currently consists of over 30,000 vehicles, GSA said.
Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO, cautioned during a meeting with reporters earlier this week that carmakers cannot depend on government subsidies to spur adoption of electric vehicles. The fact is the subsidies are often targets of political infighting and budget cuts.
Electric vehicles need infrastructure for charging and clean energy. The whole project of using EVs to combat climate change and to reduce emission of carbon dioxide falls apart if the energy used to charge EVs comes coal, oil or gas rather than clean, renewable energy, Tavares said.