Biden administration official who drafted EV regulations was surprisingly demoted Friday evening

A senior federal official who helped craft regulations to encourage future use of electric vehicles (EVs) is leaving the Biden administration in an unexpected move, according to an internal agency memo obtained by Fox News Digital.

Ann Carlson – currently acting administrator of the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – will resign from her position on December 26, 2023 and will leave the agency entirely at the end of January. Patrick Lally, who heads NHTSA’s Office of Governmental Affairs, made the announcement in a memo distributed among agency employees late Friday.

“Ann was a great leader – her time as acting administrator of NHTSA was time-limited under the Vacancies Reform Act,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “She is returning to her previous role as senior advisor and chief counsel for a month to support the transition.”

“Under her leadership, NHTSA has tightened child seat standards, introduced automated emergency braking for light and heavy-duty vehicles, overseen major recalls, held registered importers and those who commit odometer fraud accountable for their bad actions, and followed horrific increases in the In recent years, “traffic fatalities have declined for six quarters in a row,” the statement continued.

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President Biden appointed Ann Carlson to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February 2023.

President Biden appointed Ann Carlson to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February 2023. Her nomination failed in May, but she continued to lead the agency and, among other things, worked to draft the strictest national fuel economy standards ever enacted. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

However, Carlson faced strong opposition from Republicans over her past climate activism, her support for regulations on gas-powered vehicles and her continued leadership of NHTSA in an executive role even after Senate confirmation for the permanent post failed was.

In January 2021, the Biden-Harris transition team hired Carlson, then a professor of environmental law at UCLA, as chief adviser to NHTSA. Although the position did not require Senate confirmation, Carlson oversaw key agency initiatives in this role and began serving as acting administrator in September 2022.

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Then, in February 2023, Biden named Carlson as permanent head of NHTSA. In the months that followed, she faced intense opposition from Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee over her previous work in the private sector advising plaintiffs in climate lawsuits and her emailed comments about her role in the Biden administration.

Her nomination was then suddenly withdrawn in May, but she remained acting administrator, sparking anger among Republicans and energy advocates. And after her nomination was withdrawn, Carlson crafted new fuel economy rules that would incentivize the purchase of larger electric vehicles.

Ted Cruz during the Senate hearing

“As Senate Republicans have repeatedly emphasized, Ann Carlson acted as acting administrator and violated the law,” Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“As Senate Republicans have repeatedly emphasized, Ann Carlson acted as acting administrator and violated the law,” Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital. “Their attempts to hijack this safety agency by rewriting car fuel economy standards into an unpopular de facto EV mandate should not succeed due to their illegal appointment.”

“I am confident that President Biden will appoint someone with the requisite security experience to lead NHTSA, rather than another radical Green New Deal activist,” he continued.

In addition to leading the opposition to Carlson’s appointment as NHTSA administrator, Cruz joined Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., in September in introducing a resolution that would have effectively cut Carlson’s funding.

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Cruz has argued that Carlson’s retention of her position as acting administrator violates the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which prohibits “any person nominated to fill a vacant office from carrying out the duties of that office in an acting capacity.” He noted that the provision and the fact that Carlson had not held the position of first assistant to the previous NHTSA chief for more than 90 days before his resignation disqualified her from her current position.

“President Biden’s illegal nomination of Ann Carlson, virtually rejected by the Senate due to concerns about her extreme agenda and radical record, will only lead to more mandates, higher costs for families and a less vibrant economy,” Cruz said in the September.

Thomas Catenacci is a political reporter for Fox News Digital.


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