U.S. regulators to propose new tougher vehicle emissions rules by March

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2022.

Jonathan Ernest | Reuters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to propose new, tougher vehicle emissions rules through at least the 2030 model year by March, according to a regulatory update released Tuesday.

In December, the EPA finalized new tailpipe emissions requirements for light-duty vehicles through the 2026 model year, which reversed President Donald Trump’s car pollution cuts and will accelerate the US shift to more electric vehicles. The EPA said Tuesday it plans to finalize the latest set of requirements by March 2024, covering at least 2027 to 2030. The agency also plans to propose and finalize new rules covering medium-large vehicles in the same time frame.

If expressed in miles per gallon, the EPA rules finalized in December would result in an actual fleetwide average of about 40 mpg in 2026, down from 38 mpg under the August proposal and 32 mpg under trump rules.

President Joe Biden wants 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric or plug-in hybrid models, but has not endorsed California’s plan to phase out new light-duty gasoline vehicles by 2035.

An open question in the next set of EPA rules is how much the new rules will push automakers to build electric vehicles.

Detroit’s three automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis, face challenges meeting the 2026 rules and the next round could further boost electric vehicle makers like Tesla.

In March 2020, the Republican Trump administration overturned then-President Barack Obama’s standards to require only 1.5% annual efficiency increases through 2026. Obama demanded annual increases of 5%.

In March, some ethanol producers filed a lawsuit to overturn the 2026 rules, saying they “effectively mandate the production and sale of electric cars rather than cars with internal combustion engines.”

The EPA estimated that the benefits of reducing vehicle emissions will exceed the costs by up to $190 billion and added that the rules will result in 17% of new US vehicles by 2026 being electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.

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