Biden pushes ‘aggressive’ green mileage standard
The Biden administration is citing climate change to drastically raise the vehicle mileage standard to 55 miles per gallon by 2026. The White House expects this to result in doubling of electric vehicle sales in the coming years.
The rule, announced Monday, will see the standard raised to 40 mpg in 2023 and up every year from there. It is a 25% increase over the Trump administration standard of 36 mpg announced last year, and 5% above the 38 mpg the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed 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 chief Michael Regan said in a statement.
The rule was “a giant step forward” in delivering on President Joe Biden’s agenda to combat climate change, he added, “while paving the way toward an all-electric, zero-emissions transportation future.”
According to the EPA, the rule will help slow climate change, improve public health, and lower the cost of driving through improved fuel efficiency. The agency estimates it will lower the consumption of gasoline by about 360 billion tons, prevent the release of 3.1 million tons of carbon dioxide through 2050, and save drivers about $1,080 over the lifetime of their new vehicle.
The new standard would also help drive the sales of zero-emissions vehicles such as plug-in hybrids and electric cars, which are expected to have about 7% of the US market share in 2023. The Biden administration wants to see that reach 17% by 2026.
The new rules will start applying to 2023 vehicle models and ratchet up the emissions standard every year through 2026, much faster than previous rules. The EPA believes carmakers can meet the target by rolling out more electric vehicles.
“Making cars cleaner is critical to address climate change,” the agency said.
Some former Obama administration officials think the rule doesn’t go far enough. It is “basically just recapturing the emissions cuts that we lost during the Trump rollback,” former EPA policy adviser Jeff Alson told the New York Times. “That’s good, but it’s not going to get us anywhere near the level we’ve got to get to reduce vehicle emissions enough to protect the planet.”
Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity said the rule isn’t up to addressing the “existential threat” of global warming.
“What we really need is an aggressive rule as soon as possible to phase out the gasoline-powered vehicles that are guzzling and polluting, and replace them with EVs that have no tailpipe,” he said.
Transportation accounts for 29% of US greenhouse gas emissions, according to AP. Trucks and passenger cars account for 58% of transportation-related emissions. The rule will affect almost all Americans, as there were over 286 million registered cars in the US as of 2020, and more than 72% of all freight in the country is transported by trucks, according to industry estimates.