WASHINGTON, NYTIMES – Monday’s Dec 20th announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) increased pollution limits from automobile tailpipes to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted that is heating the planet.
The stricter rule, which is the most significant climate action by the Biden Administration and highest level ever set to fuel economy, would require passenger cars to average 55 MPG (23.4 km per Liter) by 2026. This is up from the current 38 mpg.
According to the EPA this would prevent the release 3.1 million tonnes of climate-warming carbon dioxide through 2050. It would prevent the burning of approximately 360 billion gallons gasoline, which would result in a 15% annual decrease in gasoline consumption in the United States by 2050. The agency estimated that motorists could save around US$1,080 (S$1,476) over the life-span of more efficient cars.
Biden’s administration is expected to rely heavily upon executive action and regulations, such as the new Tailpipe Rule. This is after the President’s Climate Agenda, which was the centerpiece of his climate agenda and would have transformed the transportation, energy, and energy sectors, was effectively scuttled Sunday by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin who holds the swing votes in an evenly divided Senate.
The tailpipe rule will apply to model year 2023 to 2026 within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register. This is a return to regulations that were enacted in 2012 by the Obama Administration. These regulations required that passenger vehicles sold by automakers should achieve an average of approximately 51 mpg in 2025. The standard was lowered by President Donald Trump to 44 mpg in 2020.
“We followed science, we listened, and now we are setting rigorous and rigorous standards that will aggressively lower the pollution that is causing harm to people and the planet – and save families money at all costs,” Michael Regan, administrator for the EPA, stated in a statement.
The largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States is transportation, which accounts for 29 percent of its total emissions.
The International Energy Agency recently reported that countries would have to cease selling gasoline-powered cars by 2035 if they want to prevent the global average temperature from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to levels during the Industrial Revolution. This is the threshold at which scientists believe the Earth will suffer irreversible damage. Since the late 1800s onwards, the average temperature of the planet has been 1.1 degrees Celsius.
According to climate experts the new tailpipe regulation is a first step in President Joe Biden’s push for Americans to move from cars and trucks that were powered by internal combustion engines of the 20th century to zero-emission electric cars.
Jeff Alson, a former EPA senior engineers and policy advisor who worked with the Obama auto emission standards, stated that the new Biden rule “basically just recapturing any emissions cuts we lost during Trump’s rollback.” “That’s great, but it won’t get us to the level we need to reduce vehicle emissions enough for the planet to protect it.”
A portion of the larger US$2.2 trillion bill, the Build Back Better Act, has seen tax incentives of up to US$26 million for electric vehicle adoption stalled on Capitol Hill. It is part of a larger bill that amounts to US$2.2 trillion. Manchin is opposing the bill. The bill includes a tax credit of US$7500 for electric vehicle purchasers, and an additional incentive of US$4,500 for union workers who build the vehicles.
Biden has set a goal to have electric cars make up 50% of all new cars by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. Biden is aware of the enormity of the task ahead, but electric cars are only expected to account for 4 percent of US car sales by 2021.
Last month, Congress took a significant step by passing a US$1 trillion infrastructure bill. It included US$7.5billion to build approximately 500,000 electric charging stations across the country and another US$7.5billion to boost supply chains for electric vehicles. Biden signed an executive directive requiring the federal government’s purchase of zero-emission vehicles and trucks by 2035.
Climate advocates believe that more is needed to reach Biden’s goal.
“The president’s announcement of a short-term rule now isn’t enough to meet the challenge that he personally identified, that global heating is an existential danger,” said Dan Becker director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at Center for Biological Diversity. “What we really need is a strong rule to eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles, which pollute and are polluting, and replace them with EVs without a tailpipe.”
EPA officials are now working on a future regulation to regulate vehicles built in model year 2027. This would encourage automakers and increase sales of electric vehicles. They hope to publish a draft by 2022 and have it completed before Biden’s term ends.
Tailpipe emissions rules refer to the average mileage per gallon for all vehicles sold by a carmaker. Stringent standards are intended to force automakers to sell more electric cars to offset low-mileage pickup trucks and SUVs. For example, the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America and only gets about 20 mpg.
Major automakers have publicly committed funds to electric vehicles. GM has stated that it will go entirely electric by 2035. Ford has announced US$30billion in investments in electrification. The company stated that it will sell electric vehicles in major markets like the US and China by 2035 and globally by 2040. Ford has produced an electric version F-150; dealers can place orders starting in January.
Automakers said that they need government help to ensure consumers can charge their cars and buy them.
John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (a lobbying group representing the largest auto companies in the world), stated that the final rule by EPA on greenhouse gas emissions was more aggressive than the original proposal. He also required a significant increase in electric vehicle sales to surpass the 4% currently being sold. “This final rule’s goals will require the enactment supportive governmental policy – including consumer incentives and substantial infrastructure growth. It will also require fleet requirements and support for US manufacturing.
General Motors issued Monday a statement stating that it supports the final rule and its intent to significantly reduce emissions. However, it is still reviewing the details.
Ford stated, “We applaud EPA’s efforts strengthen greenhouse gas emission standards and create a consistent National Plan.”
Stellantis, a company formed by the merger between Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, called the new rule “aggressive” but said it highlighted the need to have the government support a transition towards zero-emission vehicles.