EPA accelerates proposed emissions standards

By Addison Burke, Staff Writer

The Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two of the most ambitious new automobile pollution rules that would entail the largest U.S. vehicle emissions reduction plan ever last Wednesday.

The proposed regulation would set the strictest tailpipe emissions limit for the 2027 through 2032 model years and call for two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032, nearly ten times the current level of electric vehicle sales.

The EPA’s proposed tailpipe standards would require 13% annual pollution cuts and a 56% reduction in projected fleet average greenhouse gas emissions over 2026 requirements by cars and other motor vehicles. 

The EPA projects that the proposed 2027-2032 model year regulations would cut more than nine billion tons of CO2 emissions through 2055, which is more than double the total U.S. CO2 emissions last year.

The proposal aims to accelerate the transition from gas vehicles to electric and to continue the fight against climate change by improving air quality for communities across the country. The EPA also estimates that it could create $850 billion to $1.6 trillion in indirect economic benefits through 2055.    

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

While the proposal has received backlash from many auto workers and manufacturers, environmentalists have praised the Biden administration for acting upon issues caused by climate change, which Biden deemed a “moral imperative and economic imperative” that strongly influences his decision making.

The Biden administration hopes to finalize the new rules by early 2024 so that it would become more difficult for a future Congress or president to reverse them.

Laurence Tubiana, the chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, noted the benefits of the EPA’s proposed action.

“This is confirmation to the world of the seriousness of the engagement of Joe Biden on climate change and keeps the U.S. as a front-runner on climate. It’s resonating very well in Europe and the world,” she stated.

This proposal has been driven by a report in 2021 from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which found that nations would have to stop sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep average global temperature from increasing 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The U.S. is the second largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world behind China, so this proposal would create historic changes, especially since transportation accounts for about 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia stated that a group of about a dozen Republican attorney generals would work to fight this newest proposal.

 “The administration is hell bent on destroying America’s energy security and independence by making us dependent on resources and components that can come only from abroad,” he noted.

Some auto workers and manufacturers also believe that the proposal could lead to job losses and lower profits for firms.

“There is no good reason why electric vehicle manufacturing can’t be the gateway to the middle class that auto jobs have been for generations of union autoworkers,” President of United Auto Workers Shawn Fain stated.

Based on the current amount of electric vehicles sales, auto industry analysts believe it will be difficult for automakers and manufacturers to meet the projected sales. Many say that this goal is ambitious but achievable.        

“I believe we can (meet the goal) because we’re following the market trends. This is the future. The consumer demand is there. The markets are enabling it. The technologies are enabling it. And this isn’t something we just started yesterday. This has been part of President Biden’s vision from day one,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan stated.