New EPA Rules Will Change the 'Menu' for Car Buyers

But some restrictions have been loosened from last year's proposal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2024 2:30 PM CDT
EPA Issues Strongest-Ever Car Pollution Standards
Motorists recharge their Tesla vehicles at a Tesla supercharging location, Jan. 16, 2024, in northeast Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

The Biden administration has finalized Environmental Protection Agency rules that usher in the "strongest-ever pollution standards for cars," according to the agency. The rules, described by the Washington Post as Biden's "most far-reaching climate regulation yet," require steep emissions cuts that will speed up the transition to electric vehicles. But some requirements have been loosened from the proposed plan unveiled last April. More:

  • What the rules cover. The rules cover light- and medium-duty vehicles, including vans and pickup trucks, from model years 2027 to 2032, bringing in an emissions target of roughly 50% of the level set for the 2026 model year, NPR reports. Instead of banning gas-powered cars or making electric vehicles mandatory, the EPA is setting standards for a manufacturer's entire fleet, meaning it can still offer higher-emission vehicles. But the "menu" is likely to shift toward cleaner vehicles, per NPR.
  • Not a mandate. EPA Administrator Michael Regan pushed back against claims that the rule is a mandate for electric vehicles, the AP reports. "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," he said.

  • Benefits. "The standards will avoid more than 7 billion tons of carbon emissions and provide nearly $100 billion of annual net benefits to society, including $13 billion of annual public health benefits due to improved air quality, and $62 billion in reduced annual fuel costs, and maintenance and repair costs for drivers," the EPA said in a news release, adding that the rules will create "greater certainty for the auto industry, catalyzing private investment, creating good-paying union jobs, and invigorating and strengthening the US auto industry."
  • Changes from last year's proposal. In what the Post sees as an "election-year concession to labor unions," the finalized rules slow down implementation of tougher standards and delay stricter electric vehicle requirements until after 2030. The rules also allow manufacturers to meet targets by boosting sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Sales of EVs have been slowing, and John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation trade group, said the "adjusted EV targets—still a stretch goal—should give the market and supply chains a chance to catch up."
  • Opposition. The new restrictions are expected to face an immediate court challenge from a coalition of fossil fuel companies and attorneys general from Republican-led states, reports the New York Times. Moves to speed up adoption of EVs have been strongly denounced by GOP politicians including former President Trump, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers lobbying group has launched an ad campaign in swing states against what it calls "Biden's EPA car ban."
(More electric vehicles stories.)

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