EPA Plans to Unveil New Auto Emissions Standards

The Biden administration will unveil new stricter requirements to speed up the transition to electric vehicle adoption.

Photo of a Tesla car charging in a garage
Photo by Austin Hervias via Unsplash

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The Biden administration sees a path to an electric future through the tailpipe. 

To juice the transition to EVs, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to introduce far more stringent restrictions on tailpipe emissions for combustion-engine vehicles as soon as this week, according to a report last weekend from Bloomberg.

The Smog of War

The EPA is on a mission to cut the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions by half by the end of the decade, as agreed to in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. Cars and light trucks account for roughly one-fifth of the nation’s total emissions, Manish Bapna, head of the Natural Resources Defense Action Fund, told Bloomberg. And the government agency estimates that EVs need to account for at least two-thirds of all cars on the road by 2032 to achieve its climate goals — quite a ways up from the market share of less than 8% that EVs had in 2023.

But achieving that milestone is easier said than done. Carmakers pushed back hard after an earlier, stricter version of new emissions standards were reported by The New York Times last month. The agency is hoping that its slightly revised new rules still carry the nation down the same road to decarbonization:

  • Carmakers argued that overly strict emissions rules too soon would effectively destabilize the emerging EV market, which still needs to build out effective charging infrastructure and strengthen its manufacturing supply chains before the industry can truly take off.
  • The EPA’s revised rules, then, will roll out slightly lower standards in the next couple of years before ramping up to achieve the same 2032 target, sources told Bloomberg.

“The rule doesn’t meet the moment,” David Cooke, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Bloomberg while noting that the new standards will still create “some guarantees around movement toward zero-emission vehicles nationwide.”

Stalling Out: The slow transition to EVs has been noted by just about everyone in the auto industry. The latest victim: Stephen Scherr, the now-former CEO of Hertz, who had the rental car company bet big on EVs. Hertz has been selling off excess EV stock by the thousands in recent months and recently reported its biggest quarterly loss since the pandemic canceled travel plans everywhere. Now that hurts.