Science

EPA says over half of all new cars must be EVs or hybrids by 2032

The Biden administration has announced some of the biggest pollution regulations in US history. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency revealeded the finalization of new, enforceable standards meant to ensure electric and hybrid vehicles make up at least 56 percent of all passenger car and light truck sales by 2032.

To meet this goal, automotive manufacturers will face increasing tailpipe pollution limits over the next few years. This gradual shift essentially means over half of all car companies’ sales will need to be zero-emission models to meet the new federal benchmarks.

According to the EPA, this unprecedented industry transition could cut an estimated 7 billion tons of emissions over the next three decades. Regulators believe this will also offer a nearly $100 billion in annual net benefits for the nation, including $13 billion of annual public health benefits from improved air quality alongside $62 billion in reduced annual fuel, maintenance, and repair costs for everyday drivers.

Transportation annually generates 29 percent of all US carbon emissions, making it the country’s largest single climate change contributor. Aggressively pursuing a nationwide shift towards EV adoption was a cornerstone of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign platform. While in office, Donald Trump rolled back the Obama administration’s previous automotive pollution standards applicable to vehicles manufactured through 2025. He has promised to enact similar orders if re-elected during this year’s presidential election.

The EPA’s new standards is actually a slightly relaxed version of a previous proposal put forth last year. To address concerns of both manufacturers and the industry’s largest union, United Auto Workers, the Biden administration agreed to slow the rise of tailpipe standards over the next few years. By 2030, however, limits will increase substantially to make up for the lost time. The EPA claims today’s finalized policy will still reduce emissions by the same amount over the next three decades.

The new rules are by no means an “EPA car ban” on gas-powered vehicles, as lobbyists with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers continue to falsely claim. The guidelines go into effect in 2027, and only pertain to new cars and light trucks over the coming years. The stipulations also cover companies’ entire product lines, so it’s up to manufacturers to determine how their fleets as a whole meet the EPA benchmarks.

Still, fossil fuel companies and Republican authorities are extremely likely to file legal challenges over today’s announcement—challenges that could easily arrive in front of the Supreme Court in the coming years. Earlier today, the vice president of federal policy for the League of Conservation Voters said during a press call that they already discussed such possibilities with the Biden administration, and “they are crystal clear about the importance of getting rules out to make sure that they withstand both legal challenges from the fossil fuel industry and any congressional attacks should Republicans take over the Senate and the White House.”

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