EPA Releases New Auto Standards to Reduce Emissions

Industry associations says new standards ‘will limit consumer choice’ and ‘significantly increase the domestic market share for electric vehicles’
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing new, more protective emissions standards for criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHG) for light- and medium-duty vehicles that will phase-in over model years 2027 through 2032. Industry associations responded, noting that the new standards represent only a modest improvement over the previous standards.

By 2032, the rule calls for automakers to meet a fleetwide average emissions rate of 85 grams per mile, down from 192 grams for current model year 2024 vehicles.

While the final rule does not mandate any technology to meet the new tailpipe emission standard, auto manufacturers are expected to comply by significantly ramping up the manufacture of electric vehicles (EVs).

The final rule is predicted to significantly increase the domestic market share for electric vehicles (EVs) over the 2027-2032 phase-in period, according to the Energy Marketers of America (EMA).

The EPA estimates the final rule will increase EV market share to 55% of all new cars sold nationwide by 2032 while electric plug-in hybrid vehicle sales will increase to 13% over the same period, according to the agency.

By contrast, in 2023, EVs made up just 7% of vehicle sales and plug-in hybrids another 2%.

The new GHG standards for light duty cars and trucks comes just one year after the EPA proposed GHG tailpipe emission reductions for heavy-duty trucks through model year 2032. Under the proposed rule, the EPA projected 50% of heavy-duty vehicles, 35% of short-haul trucks and 25% of long-haul trucks would be electric by 2032. The heavy-duty truck rule is expected to be out this spring.

“Unfortunately, President Biden’s aggressive attempt to electrify the transportation sector will limit consumer choice on cleaner greener ICEs, increase Americans’ utility bills to subsidize a massive expansion of the electric grid for EV charging and threaten the viability and jobs of small business energy marketers around the country, whether they deliver gasoline and diesel or renewable fuels like ethanol, biodiesel and renewable diesel,” said Rob Underwood, president of EMA.

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) issued a statement in response to the EPA’s final rule.

“The fastest, most efficient way to lower carbon emissions remains through technology-neutral, market-oriented, consumer-focused policies that encourage all fueling technologies to improve their respective emissions,” the letter said. “This rule does not do that. Instead, it functions as an effective mandate for a single technology that at this point has not proven itself to be more viable than other compelling solutions.”

While the rule addresses the needs of automakers, it does not consider the need to build out a safe and reliable EV charging station network, the letter said.

The EPA provided the following reasoning for its new standards:

“Motor vehicle emissions contribute to ozone, particulate matter (PM), and air toxics, which are linked with premature death and other serious health impacts, including respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, and cancer. This air pollution affects people nationwide, as well as those who live or work near transportation corridors. In addition, the effects of climate change represent a rapidly growing threat to human health and the environment, and are caused by GHG emissions from human activity, including motor vehicle transportation. Addressing these public health and welfare needs will require substantial additional reductions in criteria pollutants and GHG emissions from the transportation sector.”

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