Biden’s Latest EV Push Would Lower Emissions Standards

EPA’s proposed 13% annual drop in carbon-dioxide emissions aims to boost electric-vehicle penetration
Shell USA's Volta charging stall
Photograph: Volta

The Biden administration’s goal of cutting in half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 received a boost this week when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, which are expected to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles.

The standards include an industrywide average target for light-duty vehicles of 82 grams per mile of carbon dioxide in model year 2032, which would result in a 13% annual reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions. This target is based on a fleet of 40% cars and 60% trucks, according to the EPA. The average passenger vehicle emits about 404 grams of CO2 per mile, the EPA said.

The news was greeted with opposition from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), which sees other ways to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint from transportation.

“AFPM supports vehicles and transportation fuels continually moving toward greater efficiency and lower carbon intensity, which is possible through the deployment of carbon capture technology, renewable fuel expansion and more efficient refining processes,” said AFPM’s President and CEO Chet Thompson. “We also believe EPA’s choice to fixate on tailpipe emissions rather than full fuel and vehicle lifecycle is a huge error that will stymie investment and artificially cap the potential of carbon abatement for liquid fuels and vehicles on the road today.”

Biden's Goal

Biden’s goal of 500,000 electric chargers installed by 2030 would require a rapid uptick in the rate of installations, according to government data. While the Biden administration has said more than 130,000 public chargers currently are available, the data doesn’t represent the number of fast-charging ports convenience stores and fuel stations are installing.

With a reported backlog in EV fast-charging equipment, installations have been delayed at many locations. This presents an opportunity for Italian energy company Enel SpA to expand in the United States with plans to provide at least 10,000 public fast chargers with the help of U.S. government subsidies, and the company has a much larger U.S. goal for the long term, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

To date, U.S. companies like EVgo and Volta have installed chargers one or two at a time at various locations thought to lend themselves to the refilling task. Volta, which was acquired by Shell USA for $169 million March 31, has about 3,000 chargers installed.

This week, convenience-store chain Loop Neighborhood Market announced it would be installing FreeWire Technologies’ Boost Chargers at its stores. The company expects to install the ultrafast charger at its Fremont location in the coming weeks. The charger outputs 150 kilowatts per hour to an EV and draws 27 kilowatts per hour from the grid, it’s a Battery Management System providing a boost. Its battery pack offers 160 kilowatts per hour of energy storage capacity.

At Loop Neighborhood Market, we believe the transition into zero-emission and lowering our carbon footprint is of utmost importance in today's world, said Varish Goyal, CEO at Loop Neighborhood Market. We are most excited to integrate FreeWire's leading edge Boost Chargers into our Loop locations, helping our customers save time while being more energy efficient.

The company didn’t provide details on how many fast-chargers it intends to purchase.

Fast-chargers Installed

U.S. Energy Department data indicates as of April 13, California led the nation on EV charging stations with 14,289 stations, including 8,871 fast-charging ports, The Wall Street Journal reported. After California, the numbers drop substantially.

New York is the No. 2 state for EV charging with 3,310 charging stations and 1,212 fast-charge ports, followed by:

  • Florida: 1,830 charging stations; 1,793 fast-charge ports
  • Texas: 2,510 charging stations; 1,655 fast-charge ports
  • Massachusetts: 2,422 charging stations; 633 fast-charge ports
  • Colorado: 1,826 charging stations; 758 fast-charge ports
  • Washington: 1,692 charging stations; 855 fast-charge ports
  • Georgia: 1,566 charging stations; 857 fast-charge ports
  • Maryland: 1,354 charging stations; 744 fast-charge ports
  • Pennsylvania: 1,325 charging stations; 744 fast-charge ports.

But not everyone sees the same promise in EV charging. J.D. Power spotted potential problems with a rapid rollout of EVs, noting in August 2022, customer satisfaction with public Level 2 charging had declined from the prior year, while satisfaction with fast chargers remained flat.

Reliability Questions

In another study on the reliability of public chargers, researchers last year found about 23% of EV chargers in the San Francisco Bay area had problems, such as charge initiation failures, unresponsive screens, payment system failures and broken connectors. 

The Biden administration’s support for lower emissions standards could give the EV charging industry the shot it needs to address the issues confronting the rollout of EV chargers, which experts say must occur for EV vehicles to provide reliable transportation.

In the meantime, the petroleum-based fuel industry opposes any government mandate taking away consumers’ choice in fuels and choice in vehicles. “EPA’s proposal to effectively ban gasoline and diesel vehicles is bad for consumers, the environment, our freedom of mobility and U.S. national security,” Thompson said in a statement. “It’s unconscionable that the administration would propose this knowing full well that China controls 80% of global battery production capacity, and even with robust U.S. investment to fortify our own electric grid and grow our battery supply chains by a magnitude of 10, we will not come close to overtaking China’s dominant position and will be left more dependent and financially beholden to them as a result,” he said, citing a Bloomberg business news story.

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