Biden administration rolls out clean car goals
The Biden administration on Thursday set a goal of making half of new vehicle sales in this country electric by 2030 and released new details on shorter-term proposals intended to push the market toward emission-free vehicles.
In the short term, the administration is proposing to increase the stringency of standards for vehicle mileage and greenhouse gas emissions.
But the executive order outlining the 50 percent goal also directs the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pursue longer-term standards.
The proposals come in response to the Trump administration’s gutting of the standards.
The short-term greenhouse gas emissions standard from the EPA would require a 10 percent year-over-year stringency increase in model year 2023, followed by 5 percent increases each model year from 2024 through 2026.
By comparison, the Trump administration required increasing the stringency by about 1.5 percent year-over-year, while the Obama administration required about 5 percent.
The EPA estimated that the greenhouse gas emissions standard would prevent the emissions of 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide through 2050.
The Transportation Department standards would require efficiency increases of 8 percent annually from 2024 through 2026 and would boost the estimated fleetwide average by 12 miles per gallon compared to the 2021 average, according to an agency statement.
The administration previously detailed the plans to reporters Wednesday night, but President Biden formally announced them during a speech on Thursday and stressed that the automotive industry’s future is electric.
“The question is whether we’ll lead or fall behind in the race for the future. It’s whether we’ll build these vehicles and the batteries that got them to where they are here in the United States … whether or not the jobs to build these vehicles and batteries are good-paying union jobs,” Biden said. “They have to be made here in America.”
The sets of standards apply to emissions from cars and light-duty trucks, which the EPA said are responsible for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The EPA estimated that for 2026, its greenhouse gas standards would be equivalent to standards requiring vehicle mileage of 52 miles per gallon in test conditions or 38.2 miles per gallon in real-world conditions.
The agency said those levels would be stronger than both the Trump and Obama standards, which would’ve been equal to about 32.2 miles per gallon and 36.8 miles per gallon in real-world road conditions, respectively.
The EPA proposal indicated that longer-term standards starting in model year 2027 will “build upon” the near-term standards. The executive order said those standards should apply to both light- and medium-duty standards and extend through at least model year 2030.
Meanwhile, the agency also announced plans to develop an additional rule aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from heavy-duty trucks.
As part of this plan, the EPA by December 2022 would be expected to finalize standards aimed at tackling nitrogen oxide pollution from trucks starting in model year 2027.
In his White House announcement, he was joined by leaders of automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler. He was also joined by the president of the United Auto Workers union.
Ford CEO Jim Farley, in a statement Thursday, said the company expects to be “well positioned to have fully electric vehicles account for 40 to 50% of our U.S. sales by 2030.” The automaker had previously said it wanted 40 percent of its worldwide sales to be electric by 2030.
Meanwhile, GM has already said it would strive to be all-electric by 2035 and Stellantis has said it expects 40 percent of its U.S. sales to be low-emission vehicles by 2030.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee described the plan as an attempt to “push the agenda of the radical Left.”
“As people struggle to stretch their last dollar to afford reliable transportation amid rising gasoline prices, this administration is now asserting more control over the vehicles we drive to work, take our children to school, and live our lives,” she said in a statement.
Jeff Alson, who was a lead scientist on the Obama-era standards, cheered the Biden administration’s action.
“I’m pleased with the near-term standards, and they were stronger than I expected,” the now-retired scientist told The Hill.
“I’m just really thrilled to see that the EPA career staff are back being allowed to do their jobs.”
Updated at 6:50 p.m.