EPA sets strongest climate change rules ever for cars

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By journalsofus.com

The Biden administration on Wednesday finalized the United States’ toughest limits on planet-warming emissions from passenger cars and light trucks, in a controversial bid to speed up the country’s stalled transition toward electric vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency rule — President Biden’s most far-reaching climate regulation to date — will require automakers to increase sales of electric vehicles while cutting carbon emissions from gasoline-powered models, which account for about a fifth of the U.S. contribution to global warming. Is.

But unlike last year’s proposed rule, automakers would not be required to dramatically boost electric vehicle (EV) sales until after 2030. The delayed deadline reflects an election-year concession to labor unions, a key Democratic constituency that has raised concerns about a rapid turnaround. E.V.

In another variation of the proposal, automakers could comply by promoting sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles in addition to all-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids have recently proven more popular among American consumers due to concerns about the lack of public charging infrastructure.

According to the EPA, the final rule will still prevent 7.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere by 2055. It would also reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, preventing 2,500 premature deaths from air pollution annually starting in 2055, the agency said.

“Our final rule delivers the same pollution reductions — if not more — that we set out in the proposal,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said on a call with reporters Tuesday previewing the announcement. “These final standards will also reduce some of the most serious pollutants that affect public health.”

Republican-led states and fossil fuel companies are likely to challenge the rule in court. But the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group whose members include Ford, General Motors, Stellantis and Toyota, applauded the EPA’s decision to delay stricter EV requirements until after 2030.

“Creating the pace of EV adoption in 2027, 2028, 2029 and 2030 was the right decision,” John Bozzella, president and CEO of the coalition, said in a statement. “…These adjusted EV targets – still a stretch target – should give markets and supply chains a chance to catch up.”

US EV sales have cooled in recent months. According to Kelley Blue Book estimates, US EV sales in the fourth quarter of 2023 are projected to increase 40 percent year-over-year, down from a 49 percent increase in the third quarter and a 52 percent increase in the second quarter.

Yet Albert Gore, executive director of the Zero Emissions Transportation Association and son of former Vice President Al Gore, said other data paint a more encouraging picture. He said a record 1.2 million EVs were sold in the United States last year, pushing the EV market share to 7.6 percent in 2023, compared to 5.9 percent in 2022.

“Whether we’re talking about a true recession or not, the trend line for EVs over the last few years has been one of unprecedented growth,” Gore said.

EV prices are also falling so rapidly that they are now almost as cheap as gas-powered cars. The average price difference last month was $5,000, according to data from Cox Automotive.

Still, the recent sales slowdown has led some automakers to scale back their EV plans, with Ford reducing production of the much-hyped F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck. Many automakers are now turning their attention to better-selling plug-in hybrids – a compromise between the internal combustion engines of the past and the batteries of the future.

Wednesday’s rule comes after a contentious dispute between the United Auto Workers and the Biden administration over whether — and how — the shift to EVs will benefit workers.

In September, the UAW launched a historic strike against Detroit’s three largest automakers – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Workers warned that the rise of EVs could eliminate good-paying jobs in the auto industry, as many EV plants are being built in southern states that are less friendly to union workers.

Despite these warnings, the EPA issued an ambitious proposed rule last April It calls for EVs to account for 67 percent of all new passenger car and light-duty truck sales by 2032. A few weeks later, UAW President Shawn Fenn wrote that the union was pausing its endorsement of Biden’s re-election campaign due to “concerns about the electric vehicle transition.” ,

Yet the union changed course and rallied around Biden after the EPA hinted at relaxing deadlines in the final rule. The UAW endorsed the president at its annual legislative conference in January, and Fain attended Biden’s State of the Union address this month.

According to the EPA, automakers can still comply with the final rule by making EVs account for 67 percent of new car sales in 2032. But they could also meet the requirements by making all electric vehicles 56 percent and plug-in hybrids 13 percent, the agency said.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has called Fenn a “dope” and has repeatedly criticized Biden’s EV goals. He has falsely claimed that EVs cannot travel far on a single charge, and he has promised to eliminate the EPA rule on the second day of his second term.

On Monday, Trump tried to defend his declaration over the weekend that there would be a “bloodbath” if he lost in November, claiming he was only describing the bloodshed for the auto sector. He wrote on his social media platforms that he was “just mentioning.” [EV] Imports” allowed by Biden, who he said “Automobiles are killing the industry.”

Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund, the political arm of the Natural Resources Defense Council, criticized Trump’s anti-EV rhetoric.

“The industry is betting its future on electric cars, drivers are buying them in record numbers and last year’s UAW agreement ensures workers will benefit,” Bapna said in an email. “Biden has a strategy to support that change. Trump wants to reverse it.

The fossil fuel industry has tried to oppose the EPA rule, which could eat away at demand for its petroleum products. The industry trade group, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), has launched a seven-figure campaign against a de facto “gas car ban.” The campaign includes ads in battlegrounds warning that the rules will restrict consumer choice.

“Certainly, the administration refers to these rules as ‘standards,’ not ‘restrictions’ or ‘orders,'” AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson said on a call with reporters this month. ” “But they do it because they know how unpopular the sanctions are with Americans.”

AFPM’s Members include fossil fuel giants such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Marathon Petroleum and Valero Energy. Marathon Petroleum, the nation’s largest refiner, launched a secret campaign in 2018 to roll back car emissions standards set by President Barack Obama.

Mike Somers, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said the oil industry lobby group plans to challenge the new standards in court. “We will do everything we can to stop the rule,” he said in an interview Wednesday at an energy conference in Houston.

California regulators are going even further than the EPA, seeking to end statewide sales of new gas cars by 2035. In the past, more than a dozen other states have chosen to follow California’s strict tailpipe pollution rules.

The California Air Resources Board on Tuesday announced a settlement with Stellantis, owner of the Jeep and Ram brands. Under the deal, Stellantis agreed to comply with California’s EV sales requirements even if they are blocked by a court or potentially a second Trump administration.

The automaker had previously criticized those requirements for giving an unfair advantage to rivals. But on Tuesday, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares called the agreement a “win-win solution” that would avoid 10 million to 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“The world’s largest and most influential companies understand that this is how we can fight climate change together,” California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement.

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