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McMorrow admits EV transition is government-driven

Senator says EV transition is good business, but admits the driver is government regulation

The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a bill to create a MichiganWorks-style office for autoworkers, construction workers, and energy workers displaced by the transition to electric vehicles, solar power and wind power. Senate Bill 519 passed 20-18 on a party-line vote.

Supporters of the bill argue that the electric vehicle transition is market-driven. Critics note the role of government regulators in disfavoring the internal combustion engine. Various government programs give low-interest loans to EV battery projects, subsidize EV buyers, or underwrite charging resources.

Before the vote, senators debated on the Senate floor.

“Anybody who is trying to convince you that it is a mandated transition is lying,” Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, said to close her speech.

But McMorrow started her remarks by admitting the role of governments in the transition.

“The reality is that more than a dozen countries around the world, including the population of most industrialized nations, have already determined that they will be phasing out internal combustion vehicles within a few years,” McMorrow said. “Maybe within the next five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years.”

“If we do not position our state, our workers and our signature industry to respond to this transition that we are living in, we will get left behind,” McMorrow added. “Because if every country has determined that they will no longer be allowing the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles, what prosperity exists if there are no customers left to sell your products to?”

McMorrow did not respond to a request for comment.

Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy, spotted a contradiction in McMorrow’s speech.

“McMorrow’s claims that the transition to EVs is market-driven are, at best, specious,” Hayes told CapCon. “Auto manufacturers are openly admitting that EV demand is dropping rapidly. People just don’t want them at any price.

“Ford dropped the price of its F-150 Lightning by $10,000 in July and then slowed production of that vehicle in October. Mary Barra at GM stated in a third-quarter earnings call this week that lagging demand is forcing them to drop their targets to build 100,000 EVs in the second half of 2023 and 400,000 in the first half of next year. Media reports about the call indicated that GM can’t predict when they’ll hit those targets. Even Elon Musk has hinted that growing debt and inflationary pressures could impact Telsa sales.”

The Senate Fiscal Agency analysis operates on the market-driven theory.

“The market is driving a transition away from energy like coal and cars with internal combustion engines to renewable energies and electric vehicles,” reads an analysis of the bill. “This creates an education and skills gap for workers in the energy and automotive industries. Some people believe that the state should have a plan to help workers and communities transition during this significant industrial shift, and so it has been suggested that the office develop a plan.”

The bill singles out three industries as potential losers in the transition: energy, autos and construction.

If enacted into law, Senate Bill 519 would create the Community and Worker Economic Transition Office within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

The office would have to “develop a community and worker economic transition plan,” due on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk by Dec. 31, 2025, one year to the day before her last day in office.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.