Energy & Environment

Biden to strengthen vehicle mileage standards, set 50 percent EV goal

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The Biden administration on Thursday will release short-term proposals to tighten the country’s vehicle mileage and pollution standards — a move that’s expected to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles on the market. 

President Biden, meanwhile, will also direct officials to develop stronger long-term standards and will separately set a goal of making half of new vehicle sales zero-emission autos. 

A senior administration official told reporters about the plans during a Wednesday night call. 

The official said that the near-term rules would save about 200 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce about 2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. 

A fact sheet released by the White House did not specify how much the administration plans to raise short-term fuel economy standards by, but said it would “build upon the momentum” of an agreement between California and five automakers. The companies agreed to bring their fleets up to an average of about 51 miles per gallon by the year 2026. 

The Obama administration had set fuel economy standards requiring fleets averaging nearly 55 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while the Trump administration cut this down to about 40 miles per gallon by 2026. 

Administration vehicle standards are considered a major part of climate policy, as the transportation sector makes up 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the most out of any sector. 

Ford, GM and Stellantis, which was formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, are expected to stand alongside President Biden on Thursday. 

The official also said that there will be a series of announcements from automakers that collectively make up a significant share of the U.S. market detailing their own goals of selling 40 to 50 percent electric vehicles in 2030. 

The purpose of the 50 percent goal, which would be outlined in an executive order, is to spur private investment and congressional action and send signals to government agencies to try to advance deployment, according to the official. 

The order is also expected to direct agencies to work with the departments of Commerce, Labor and Energy on how to accelerate automobile innovation and manufacturing, boost the domestic supply chain and add jobs and engage with states and other stakeholders. 

In the short-term proposals, standards for fuel efficiency and pollution, set by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are expected to work in tandem through 2026. 

The EPA’s rule would take effect in 2023, while the Transportation Department’s rule would take effect in 2024. 

The longer-term standards, which would deal with both fuel efficiency and multi-pollutant emissions, are expected to apply to not just light-duty automobiles, but also medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, as soon as model year 2027 and would go through at least 2030.

Tags Climate change Electric vehicles Joe Biden vehicle emissions
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