Fueling the Electric Vehicle Transition

Happy Friday! Congratulations to Michael E., Debra S., Chris T., and Jim B., who miraculously made it through the first day of the NCAA March Madness tournament while missing just one game in their TMD pool brackets

[Editor’s Note: If only we could have sent today’s TMD at 6:51 p.m. ET last night, at which point Declan was still tied for first place—globally—after going eight for his first eight picks in the tournament. Unfortunately, his wisdom and foresight will be lost to the sands of time. No one will know that, again, he correctly picked the first eight games of the 2024 men’s March Madness tournament.]

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Biden administration is expected to introduce a draft U.N. Security Council resolution today calling for an “immediate and sustained ceasefire” in Gaza contingent on the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the resolution “would send a strong message, a strong signal.” Israeli officials, however, remain steadfast in their intention to launch a ground offensive in Rafah—a city in southern Gaza and Hamas’ last stronghold—despite U.S. opposition. “If you leave four battalions in Rafah, you’ve lost the war, and Israel is not going to lose the war,” Ron Dermer, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, said Thursday on Dan Senor’s podcast. “With or without the United States, we are not going to do it.”
  • Congressional leaders released on Thursday the 1,012-page text of the $1.2 trillion ‘minibus’ package that, if passed, would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, increasing defense spending and continuing funding at current levels for most of the other agencies included in the package. The deal includes increased funding for border security, and cuts U.S. support to the United Nations Relief Works Agency, the Palestinian aid group discovered last month to have ties to Hamas. The spending package also boosts funding for the childhood education program Head Start and authorizes 12,000 additional visas for Afghans who assisted the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan, among other provisions. The House is expected to vote on the legislation today, and both chambers of Congress will need to pass the package by midnight tonight to stave off a partial government shutdown.
  • The European Commission agreed on Thursday to open accession talks with Bosnia-Herzegovina, beginning the process for the Balkan nation to potentially join the European Union. “Today’s decision is a key step forward on your EU path,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted. “Now the hard work needs to continue so Bosnia and Herzegovina steadily advances, as your people want.”
  • The Department of Justice, along with 16 other state and district attorneys general, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple yesterday, alleging the company has monopolized the smartphone market. “For years, Apple responded to competitive threats by imposing a series of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ contractual rules and restrictions that have allowed Apple to extract higher prices from consumers, impose higher fees on developers and creators, and to throttle competitive alternatives from rival technologies,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The complaint—which an Apple spokesperson argued would, if successful, “set a dangerous precedent” and threaten “the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets”—requests the court enjoin such practices, and Justice Department officials have not publicly ruled out other structural changes to Apple, including a break up of the $2.6 trillion company.
  • The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that the median existing-home sales price in the U.S. was $384,500 in February—up 5.7 percent annually, marking the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Sales of previously owned homes rose 9.5 percent from February, far above economists’ expectations.

Tapping the Brakes

Overhead aerial view of a person connecting an electric car to an electrical vehicle charging station at dusk. (via Getty Images)
Overhead aerial view of a person connecting an electric car to an electrical vehicle charging station at dusk. (via Getty Images)

Fresh off a dire warning from former President Donald Trump that reelecting President Joe Biden would lead to a “bloodbath” for Detroit’s automotive industry, the incumbent’s administration announced a new regulation intended to greatly accelerate the nation’s pivot towards electric vehicles. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed a final rule on Wednesday setting the strictest limits yet on emissions from passenger vehicles model year 2027 to 2032 in an effort to combat climate change. Included in the rule is a delay in the timeline for the auto industry to transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids, potentially offering more time to reach government compliance while still meeting emissions standards. But critics of the plan warn that it ignores market demands and imposes significant costs on the industry in exchange for negligible benefits.

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