Put a heavy tax on gas cars. Then the EV market will thrive

To the editor: Industrial policy is a fool’s errand. Neither politicians, newspapers nor China can pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Tastes, incomes and production costs determine what gets bought and sold. (“Biden needs to put the pedal to the metal on zero-emission cars,” editorial, Aug. 6)

The environmental costs of burning fossil fuels in automobiles are real and significant, and unaccounted for in car prices, but the federal government should not subsidize the purchase and operation of electric vehicles. This would be impossibly complicated, and requires shifting public resources from other purposes.

Instead, tax internal combustion engines at a level that places the estimated cost of the environmental damage they do inside the price of such vehicles, and let the automotive market operate. The electric vehicle market will then thrive.

James E. Moore II, Los Angeles

The writer, an engineering professor at USC, is director of the university’s transportation engineering program.


To the editor: Yes, we must take a “hair on fire” approach to climate change, and pushing the transition to electric vehicles faster with government action is crucial.

There are other things, though, that can work faster to cut emissions; one is putting a hefty price on them. And that solution would cover not only vehicle emissions, but emissions throughout the economy. That should be the top priority, with additional policies, like requiring more EVs, adding heft.

We could eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel companies immediately if these businesses were not paying politicians to do everything but that. Perhaps if certain representatives put the general welfare above their own selfish interests and supported strong climate policies, they would find that would work better at keeping them in office than taking dirty money.

Cher Gilmore, Newhall