WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administration is raising vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, reversing a Trump-era rollback that loosened fuel efficiency standards.
“We are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet – and save families money at the same time,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. He called the rule “a giant step forward” in delivering on President Joe Biden’s climate agenda “while paving the way toward an all-electric, zero-emissions transportation future.?
The administration will “continue to fight tirelessly” for the EV tax credits and other incentives in the so-called Build Back Better bill, Regan said, but even without them, “we believe that we proposed a rule that is doable, it’s affordable, it’s achievable, and we’re excited about it.”
The new mileage rules are the most ambitious tailpipe pollution standards ever set for passenger cars and light trucks. The standards raise mileage goals set by the Trump administration that would achieve only 32 miles per gallon in 2026. Biden had set a goal of 38 miles per gallon in August.
The standards also will help expand the market share of zero emissions vehicles, the administration said, with a goal of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles reaching 17% of new vehicles sold in 2026. EVs and plug-in hybrids are expected to have about 7% market share in 2023.
He has urged that components needed to make that sweeping change — from batteries to semiconductors — be made in the United States, too, aiming for both industry and union support for the environmental effort, with the promise of new jobs and billions in federal electric vehicle investments.
Automakers are “committed to achieving a cleaner, safer, and smarter future,” but EPA’s final rule for greenhouse gas emissions is more aggressive than originally proposed, “requiring a substantial increase in electric vehicle sales, well above the 4% of all light-duty sales today,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. The group represents manufacturers producing nearly 99% of new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S.
Despite pushback from the auto industry, the rule will significantly reduce air and climate pollution, Folger said. She called the announcement “a win” on climate that will help create “an onramp to a future with zero emissions from our cars and trucks.”
EPA called the new rule critical to address climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, making up 29% of all emissions. Within the transportation sector, passenger cars and trucks are the largest contributor, accounting for 58% of all transportation-related emissions and 17% of overall U.S. carbon emissions.
The final standards will contribute toward a goal set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the EPA said. The U.S. rejoined the Paris agreement on Biden’s first day in office after former President Donald Trump had withdrawn the U.S. from the global pact.
The new rules would begin with the 2023 car model year and increase emissions reductions year by year through model year 2026. The rule accelerates the rate of emissions reductions to between 5 and 10% each year from 2023 through 2026, the EPA said, far higher than under previous rules.
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