EPA Introduces Stricter Vehicle Emission Rules

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
epa introduces stricter vehicle emission rules

The Biden administration released updated proposals for the mileage and emission standards to be imposed on passenger vehicles sold inside the United States this week. To the great shock of nobody, they move the country away from the targets established by the Trump administration so the nation can be brought back toward stringent Obama-era goals those later changes sought to get away from.

Though it’s not quite a return to form and environmentalists have already accused the plan of being insufficient — a take that’s as easy to predict as a sunrise. The Environmental Protection Agency would be technically setting rules that put us a year or so behind targets instituted during the Obama administration. But that’s largely understandable when that regime didn’t spend the last four years inside the White House. Besides, the Biden administration’s EPA has already confirmed it’s pushing for even tougher restrictions after 2026.

The proposed standards now mandate a fleet-wide vehicle mileage of 52 mpg by 2026, moving up from this year’s limit of 40 mpg. In the interim, the EPA suggested that the updated proposals would result in a 10 percent reduction of national vehicle emissions by 2023 with every successive year until 2026.

Automotive News quoted the Department of Transportation as claiming new rules would increase fuel efficiency by 8 percent annually for vehicles MY 2024-2026 and estimated a fleet-wide average increase of 12 mpg by model year 2026.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg claimed the changes would help address the climate crisis, improve air quality, and save drivers “hundreds of billions of dollars on gas.”

“By giving American car manufacturers a clear path forward, we will ensure that more of those clean vehicles, and jobs, are created right here,” he said of the proposal.

Except automakers don’t have a clear pathway forward and these targets will undoubtedly change (yet again) to become something more lax and flexible the second the United States has another conservative government. At this moment the EPA is currently spitballing restrictions for heavy-duty vehicles after 2026. But those will be utterly meaningless if the Biden-Harris ticket fails in 2024 and the successive administration decides to change course.

Meanwhile, the latest from the EPA is being criticized by environmentalists as lackluster. Despite introducing regulations aimed at limited emissions and setting aside billions in infrastructure plans specifically to encourage the proliferation of electric vehicles, many are chiding the Biden administration for not going far enough.

From AN:

Dan Becker, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport Campaign, said the proposed EPA standards would still fall short of the goals set by Obama.

“I don’t feel comfortable that those percentage numbers accurately reflect what the proposal does,” Becker said.

While the proposed Biden EPA rule reaches a projected industry target of 171 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, the Obama rule would have achieved a standard of 163 grams of carbon dioxide per mile a year earlier, Becker said.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also expressed concerns, with senior analysts David Cooke claiming it was better than anyone anticipated but “still not where we need to be.”

“There are still plenty of loopholes and flexibilities that undermine what could be a very strong rule,” Cooke elaborated.

But the EPA seems happy with the direction things are heading and praised itself in a statement announcing the updated emission proposals. It also briefly mentioned its future goals regarding emissions limitations pertaining to heavy commercial vehicles.

“Today, EPA takes a major step forward in delivering on President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis and create good paying, union jobs,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These robust standards are underpinned by sound science and technical expertise, encouraging the development of technology and innovation that will drive America forward into a clean energy future. We are excited about building on the partnerships with states, cities, industry, labor, and NGO stakeholders to realize this vision together.”

“Pollution from trucks has been a long-standing obstacle to advancing environmental justice, as many low-income and minority communities live near highways or in heavily polluted areas with frequent truck congestion and idling,” Regan continued. “EPA is committed to walking our talk and delivering tangible benefits to historically underserved and overburdened communities. Setting clear and stringent standards for truck pollution is critical to delivering on this commitment.”

If you’d like to give the EPA a piece of your mind or give it the thumbs up, the organization is taking public comments on the light-vehicle proposal until the end of September.

[Image: Ody_Stocker/Shutterstock]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 09, 2021

    Thanks I didn't realize there was a different between MPGs.

  • El scotto El scotto on Aug 09, 2021

    I sit here using something that was developed by the military and/or computer geeks. Depends on which story you like. The many myopic posters on here will constantly say, "the gubmint is horrible can't do a gol-dang thing right!!!" Well, consider the irnony of complaining about the government while using the internet. Your computer too. Or buying guns or going on alt-right sights because that's not only all right; that's pretty gol-dang good! Things I believe in! "Murrica!!! heck yes!! It seems most of our right-wing posters have a compulsion to win the internetz at all costs. Anyone who disagrees with them must be belittled and crushed because there is only one true way to think. Attempts at civil discourse are useless with them. Baseless (non-referenced) claims are hurled in the other person face and it all usually devolves into an "I'm rubbber and you're glue" series of statments and replies. I put the blame squareley on the editoral staff. They are seem to constantly submit posts not for honest debate and comments but hope the comments section runs amok. This site used to have some great writers. They're long gone to much better opportunities. There used to be some educated, unbiased and polite commenters on here. They've taken their civility else where. Sell TTAC to someone who can make it a car site again.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.