Biden emission rules target gas cars with more than half of sales to be electric by 2032

SCIENCE & TECH: Biden emission rules target gas cars with more than half of sales to be electric by 2032



The Biden administration on Wednesday announced less-stringent automobile emissions standards after appeals from the auto industry as sales of electric vehicles hit a speed bump.

Officials still hailed the new rules as the most ambitious plan ever to cut planet-warming emissions from passenger vehicles — though they relax initial tailpipe limits proposed last year by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The decision was made in part to allow time for Americans to warm to EVs, as more chargers get installed and automakers work to develop supply chains and more-affordable electric models, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The Biden administration’s rules come as sales of electric vehicles, which are needed to meet the standards, have begun to slow AP

The auto industry cited lower sales growth in objecting to the EPA’s preferred standards unveiled last April as part of its plan to cut planet-warming emissions from passenger vehicles.

The EPA will allow for a longer rollout under its final rule, saying the industry could meet the limits if 56% of new vehicle sales are electric by 2032, along with at least 13% plug-in hybrids or other partially electric cars, as well as more efficient gasoline-powered cars that get more miles to the gallon.

What is the EPA proposing?

The EPA rule applies to model years 2027 to 2032 and will significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, as well as other air pollution such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from new passenger cars, light trucks and pickups.

The rule will help “tackle the climate crisis” and result in widespread reductions in air pollution while accelerating the adoption of cleaner vehicle technologies, the EPA said. The agency is finalizing the rule as sales of clean vehicles, including plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles, hit record highs last year.

The new rule slows implementation of stricter pollution standards from 2027 through 2029, after the auto industry called proposed benchmarks unworkable. The rule ramps up to nearly reach the level the EPA preferred by 2032.

“Let me be clear: Our final rule delivers the same, if not more, pollution reduction than we set out in our proposal,’’ EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. AP

“Let me be clear: Our final rule delivers the same, if not more, pollution reduction than we set out in our proposal,’’ EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters. In addition to carbon pollution, the final standards also will reduce other serious air pollution that contributes to heart attacks, respiratory illnesses, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function, Regan said.

“Folks, these new standards are so important for public health, for American jobs, for our economy and for our planet,’’ he said.

The standards are designed to be technology-neutral and performance-based, Regan said, giving car and truck manufacturers the flexibility to choose pollution-control technologies that are best suited for their customers while meeting environmental and public health goals.

Why did the EPA change the proposed rule

The changes appear aimed at addressing strong industry opposition to the accelerated ramp-up of EVs, along with public reluctance to fully embrace the new technology. There is also a legitimate threat of legal challenges before conservative courts.

The Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, has increasingly reined in the powers of federal agencies, including the EPA, in recent years.

The changes appear aimed at addressing strong industry opposition to the accelerated ramp-up of EVs, along with public reluctance to fully embrace the new technology. AP

The justices have restricted the EPA’s authority to fight air and water pollution — including a landmark 2022 ruling that limited the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming.

President Biden has made fighting climate change a hallmark of his presidency and is seeking to slash carbon dioxide emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles, which make up the largest single source of US greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, the Democratic president needs cooperation from the auto industry and political support from auto workers, a key political voting bloc.

The United Auto Workers union, which has endorsed Biden, has said it favors the transition to electric vehicles but wants to make sure jobs are preserved and that the industry pays top wages to workers who build the EVs and batteries.

The new rule slows implementation of stricter pollution standards from 2027 through 2029, after the auto industry called proposed benchmarks unworkable. AP

What do Trump and other Republicans say?

At a Detroit-area rally in September, Trump insisted Biden’s embrace of electric vehicles — a key component of his clean-energy agenda — would ultimately lead to lost jobs.

“He’s selling you out to China, he’s selling you out to the environmental extremists and the radical left,” Trump told his crowd, flanked by American flags and pallets of auto parts.

Republicans and some in the industry have called the rule an EV mandate, but Regan and White House officials pushed back on that.

In September, Donald Trump insisted Biden’s embrace of electric vehicles — a key component of his clean-energy agenda — would ultimately lead to lost jobs. AP

“You know, maybe some would like for it to be an EV mandate, but that clearly is not the case, when you look at the multiple pathways companies can choose to comply″ with the rule, Regan said. “We are staying well within the confines of the law and our statutory authority by not mandating a specific technology.″

The EPA could achieve its carbon pollution goals even if sales of battery electric vehicles are as low as 30% in 2032, as long as other standards are met, he said.

US electric vehicle sales grew 47% last year to a record 1.19 million as EV market share rose from 5.8% in 2022 to 7.6%. But EV sales growth slowed toward the end of the year. In December, they rose 34%.



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