Biden proposes strict auto emissions rules meant to boost EVs to two-thirds of sales

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A car gives off exhaust in Montpelier, Vt., Monday, March 2, 2007. Vermont is a big winner in two major environmental decisions handed down today by the U.S. Supreme Court. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change, but the Environmental Protection Agency had been resisting calls to regulate the amount of it coming from vehicle tailpipes. Vermont had joined Massachusetts and other parties in suing to get the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says the decision is a major boost for the state, which the car industry is suing for trying to regulate carbon emissions from vehicles. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Biden proposes strict auto emissions rules meant to boost EVs to two-thirds of sales

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The Biden administration proposed strict new auto emissions rules on Wednesday aimed at accelerating the U.S. electric vehicle transition with the goal of having EVs account for up to 67% of all new vehicles sold by 2032.

The proposed standards, which President Joe Biden ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to craft in an August 2021 executive order under the Clean Air Act, will apply to passenger vehicles beginning in model year 2027 and extending through model year 2032.

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While the EPA’s proposed rule would not mandate or require automakers to sell a certain number of EVs, it would restrict the total level of emissions generated by each company’s total fleet of sold cars, which is essentially another way of restricting internal combustion engine-powered vehicle sales.

The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the EPA, accounting for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions as of 2020.

The guidance from the Biden administration includes four different emissions-limiting options for the EPA to choose from following a public comment period, an effort to allow some degree of flexibility for the EPA in moving to adopt the proposed guidelines.

It is unlikely the regulation will be finalized until next year.

Still, the targets are ambitious. Even the most modest option would require at least 54% of new car sales in the U.S. to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, an increase of 4% compared to the administration’s existing target, which already seeks to ensure EVs represent 50% of new cars sold by 2030.

By 2032, the new proposed rule would increase that target from between 64% and 67%.

EVs made up just 5.8% of new U.S. vehicle sales in 2022.

The proposal is likely to generate some backlash from the auto industry, which until now has attempted to work with the Biden administration.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation released a memo ahead of the anticipated guidance last week.

It noted that while automakers are committed to electrifying their fleets and reaching net-zero carbon technology, a “clear-eyed assessment of market readiness is required.”

“Even with positive EV sales momentum and product excitement, there are challenges to the electrification transition ahead,” it said. “This requires a massive, 100-year change to the U.S. industrial base and the way Americans drive.”

The Biden administration’s proposal comes after California air regulators voted last year to require 100% zero-emissions vehicle sales by 2035.

Those standards have also been adopted by a handful of states, including New York and Virginia, meaning a significant portion of the industry will already be adopting more stringent standards, industry officials noted.

Speaking to reporters to preview the new proposed rule, administration officials touted the recent increase in both EV sales and public charging infrastructure, noting that since Biden took office, EV sales have tripled and public chargers have increased by 40%.

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters.

But there are major unknowns as to whether the auto industry can meet these ambitious targets.

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“The question isn’t whether it can be done; it’s how fast it can be done,” AAI said in its memo.

And how fast it can be done “will depend almost exclusively on having the right policies and market conditions in place to achieve the shared goal of a net zero carbon automotive future,” it added.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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