The News-Times

Biden boosts fuel-economy standards

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WASHINGTON — In a major step to fight climate change, the Biden administra­tion is raising vehicle mileage standards to significan­tly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, reversing a Trump-era rollback that loosened fuel efficiency standards.

A final rule issued Monday would raise mileage standards starting in the 2023 model year, reaching a projected industrywi­de target of 40 miles per gallon by 2026. The new standard is 25 percent higher than a rule finalized by the Trump administra­tion last year and 5 percent higher than a proposal by the Environmen­tal Protection Agency in August.

“We are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressive­ly reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet — and save families money at the same time,” EPA Administra­tor Michael Regan said. He called the rule “a giant step forward” in delivering on President Joe Biden’s climate agenda “while paving the way toward an all-electric, zeroemissi­ons transporta­tion future.”

The move comes a day after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin delivered a potentiall­y fatal blow to Biden’s $2 trillion social and environmen­tal policy bill, jeopardizi­ng Democrats’ agenda and infuriatin­g the White House. The West Virginia senator said he could not support the sweeping bill, which includes a host of climate proposals, saying it was too expensive and could spark inflation and expand the growing federal debt.

The now-stalled bill includes a $7,500 tax credit to buyers to lower the cost of electric vehicles.

The administra­tion will “continue to fight tirelessly” for the EV tax credits and other incentives in the so-called Build Back Better bill, Regan said, but even without them, “we believe that we proposed a rule that is doable, it’s affordable, it’s achievable, and we’re excited about it.”

The new mileage rules are the most ambitious tailpipe pollution standards ever set for passenger cars and light trucks. The standards raise mileage goals set by the Trump administra­tion that would achieve only 32 miles per gallon in 2026. Biden had set a goal of 38 miles per gallon in August.

The standards also will help expand the market share of zero emissions vehicles, the administra­tion said, with a goal of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles reaching 17% of new vehicles sold in 2026. EVs and plug-in hybrids are expected to have about 7 percent market share in 2023.

The EPA said the rule would not only slow climate change, but also improve public health by reducing air pollution and lower costs for drivers through improved fuel efficiency.

Biden has set a goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2030 as he pushes a history-making shift in the U.S. from internal combustion engines to batterypow­ered vehicles.

He has urged that components needed to make that sweeping change — from batteries to semiconduc­tors — be made in the United States, too, aiming for both industry and union support for the environmen­tal effort, with the promise of new jobs and billions in federal electric vehicle investment­s.

While ambitious, the new standards provide adequate lead time for auto manufactur­ers to comply at reasonable costs, the administra­tion said. EPA’s analysis shows the industry can comply with the final standards with modest increases in the numbers of electric vehicles entering the fleet.

The new rules would begin with the 2023 car model year and increase emissions reductions year by year through model year 2026. The rule accelerate­s the rate of emissions reductions to between 5 and 10 percent each year from 2023 through 2026, the EPA said, far higher than under previous rules.

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