NEW YORK: The Biden administration wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026, and it has won a voluntary commitment from the industry that electric vehicles comprise up to half of US sales by the end of the decade.
The moves are big steps toward President Joe Biden’s pledge to cut emissions and battle climate change as he pushes to shift the nation away from internal combustion engines to battery-powered vehicles, report agencies.
Both the regulatory standards and the voluntary target will be included in an executive order that Biden plans to sign later Thursday.
The standards, which still have to go through the regulatory process including public comments, would reverse fuel economy and anti-pollution rollbacks done under President Donald Trump. At that time, the increases were reduced to 1.5% annually through model year 2026.
The White House didn’t release information on the proposed annual increases late Wednesday, but Dan Becker, director of the safe climate campaign for the Center for Biological Diversity, said an EPA official gave the numbers during a presentation on the plan. The official said the standards would be 10% more stringent than the Trump rules for model year 2023, followed by 5% increases in each model year through 2026, according to Becker. That’s about a 25% increase over the four years.
Last week, The Associated Press and other news organizations reported that the Biden administration was discussing weaker mileage requirements with automakers, but they apparently have been strengthened. The change came after environmental groups complained publicly that they were too weak to address a serious problem.
Transportation is the single biggest U.S. contributor to climate change. Autos in the U.S. spewed 824 million tons (748 million metric tons) of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in 2019, about 14% of total US emissions, according to the EPA.
Environmental groups praised the higher standards but said the administration should be moving faster.
This proposal helps get us back on the road to cleaning up tailpipe pollution, Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement. But given how climate change has already turned our weather so violent, it’s clear that we need to dramatically accelerate progress.
Scientists say human-caused global warming is increasing temperatures, raising sea levels and worsening wildfires, droughts, floods and storms globally.