Biden administration announces sweeping car emissions proposal

The US Environmental Protection Agency says the rules will dramatically slash emissions and reduce burden of pollution.

An electric vehicle at a charging station
The Biden administration is proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require as many as two thirds of new vehicles sold in the US to be electric by 2032 [File: Paul Sancya/AP Photo]

The administration of President Joe Biden has proposed new automobile emissions standards that could result in about two thirds of all new vehicles sold in the United States being electric by 2032, in an ambitious bid to reduce emissions and air pollution.

The proposed rules were announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday, with the federal agency stating that the standards would result in a reduction of about 10 billion tonnes of carbon emissions by 2055, the equivalent of about two times the country’s total emissions in 2022.

“Today, the EPA announced new proposed federal vehicle emissions standards that will accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean vehicles future and tackle the climate crisis,” the agency said in a news release.

“The proposed standards would improve air quality for communities across the nation, especially communities that have borne the burden of polluted air.”

The rules would subject cars produced between 2027 and 2032 to the most ambitious requirements to date.

They came as the Biden administration has recently faced criticism for falling short on promises to drastically reduce emissions and move the US away from polluting fossil fuels.

Transportation accounted for about 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, according to the EPA, and the proposed standards build on previous initiatives promoted by the Biden administration.

Those efforts included the Inflation Reduction Act, a large spending package Biden signed in August 2022 that contained investments in clean energy and tax credits for EV buyers and manufacturers.

The EPA stated that the proposed rules would reduce US oil imports by about 20 billion barrels and save consumers about $12,000 over the lifetime of a light-duty vehicle.

Reducing pollution from vehicle emissions could also have significant benefits for public health, especially in communities near transportation hubs.

According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution from a variety of sources has contributed to about seven million premature deaths around the world each year. The organisation cited cleaner transportation as one way to “effectively reduce key sources of ambient air pollution”.

“Done right, these [new rules] will put the US on the path to end pollution from vehicle tailpipes,” said Manish Bapna, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.

Some car industry groups, however, have said that the proposals far exceed previous targets. They pointed to a goal the Biden administration set less than two years ago that aimed for half of all vehicles sold in the US to be electric by 2030.

“The question isn’t can this be done, it’s how fast can it be done,” A John Bozzella, CEO of the industry group Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said in a statement. “How fast will depend almost exclusively on having the right policies and market conditions in place.”

Bozzella called the proposal “aggressive by any measure”. While EV sales have increased, they accounted for just more than 7 percent of US vehicle sales for the first quarter of the year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies