How Biden’s Latest Vehicle Emission Regulations Impact You

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How Biden's Latest Vehicle Emission Regulations Impact You

On Wednesday, the White House unveiled ambitious new regulations for vehicle emissions, aiming to significantly reduce CO2 and other harmful emissions from American vehicles in the coming years. These new standards are set to accelerate the shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles, offering the added benefit of reducing fuel expenses for drivers.

This initiative is also a crucial step in the fight against climate change. In 2021, transportation was responsible for 29% of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector, with light-duty vehicles like cars, pickups, and SUVs making up the bulk of this.

Here’s a summary of what’s being dubbed the “strongest-ever pollution standards for cars” by the Biden administration, and more importantly, how these changes could impact you.

What do the new regulations entail?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced tougher tailpipe emissions standards that car manufacturers must adhere to across their vehicle lineup sold in the U.S. These new standards set stricter limits on CO2 emissions and other harmful pollutants, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, to avoid penalties.

These regulations target light- and medium-duty vehicles, including larger trucks and vans, starting with the 2027 models and becoming increasingly stringent up to the 2032 model year. This move is expected to drive a significant increase in the sale of conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles.

These standards complement a suite of initiatives by the Biden administration to enhance the domestic market for clean vehicles. With incentives like $7,500 rebates for new plug-in vehicle purchases, substantial investment in expanding charging infrastructure, and tax breaks for battery manufacturers, the administration has laid out a comprehensive strategy. The introduction of these stringent emissions standards represents the enforcement aspect of this approach.

Ingrid Malmgren, policy director at the EV advocacy group Plug In America, praised the policy mix, highlighting the balance between regulatory measures and incentives aimed at fostering a positive shift towards cleaner transportation options.

How will this affect vehicle purchasers?

These new rules spell significant savings and a wider selection of eco-friendly vehicles for shoppers. Enhanced fuel efficiency and a surge in electric vehicles (EVs) mean you could enjoy lower operating costs. The EPA projects that owning a car from the 2032 model year could save you around $6,000 in fuel and maintenance across its lifespan. Moreover, these standards are expected to cut Americans’ annual spending on gasoline, maintenance, and repairs by $62 billion. EVs, requiring fewer maintenance tasks like oil changes and offering cheaper per-mile fueling costs with electricity, play a big part in these savings.

Consumer Reports supports these findings, predicting that from 2027 to 2050, U.S. drivers could save a total of $1.6 trillion due to lower fueling and maintenance expenses, coupled with decreasing vehicle prices.

These regulations also aim to make EV production more cost-effective for automakers, which could lower vehicle prices, particularly benefiting manufacturers that are currently behind in EV technology, according to Chris Harto from Consumer Reports.

Moreover, the push for innovation among car makers is expected to lead to more affordable, high-quality EVs, as well as advancements in hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology. While electric cars are becoming more affordable, many sought-after models are still pricey and lack the range or charging speed consumers desire.

The regulations encourage not just an increase in EV sales but also enhancements in the efficiency of gasoline and hybrid engines. Harto notes that today’s hybrids offer substantial fuel savings over their lifetimes compared to the increase in their prices.

He also points out the availability of many cost-effective technologies that manufacturers haven’t utilized due to lack of regulatory pressure. The EPA anticipates a rise in cleaner vehicle options, including various hybrid models and more efficient gasoline vehicles, as a result of these rules.

How will this impact air quality and the climate?

Facing concerns from automakers and dealers about the need for more time to boost electric vehicle (EV) production and sales, the EPA revised its approach, opting for a more gradual reduction in emissions than originally planned. However, the end goal remains unchanged, aiming for the same emissions reductions by 2032 as initially proposed. The plan calls for cutting carbon emissions from light-duty vehicles by about half between the 2026 and 2032 model years. This phased approach allows car manufacturers additional time to adjust to the stricter regulations that will be introduced gradually.

The EPA estimates that these regulations will result in the elimination of 7.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions by 2055, which is roughly four times the total emissions from the transportation sector in 2021. Additionally, the anticipated decrease in emissions that contribute to smog and soot is expected to reduce illnesses related to poor air quality.

Environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have praised the adoption of these new rules.

Is Biden requiring EVs, banning gas cars?

The White House has clarified that the new regulations do not favor any specific technology. Automakers are required to meet emissions limits for each model year, but the methods to achieve these targets are left to their discretion. This approach allows manufacturers to opt for a mix of electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, and plug-in hybrids based on what suits their strategy best.

By 2032, the EPA anticipates the most cost-effective compliance strategy for car manufacturers will be a sales mix of 56% electric vehicles, 13% plug-in hybrids, 3% hybrids, and 29% traditional combustion engines. This projection is a significant increase from last year, where hybrids, EVs, and plug-in hybrids constituted 16% of U.S. vehicle sales.

This shift underscores a growing trend in the automotive industry towards more environmentally friendly vehicles, aligning with President Biden’s aim for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new car sales by 2030.

Could a future administration under Trump reverse these policies if he is re-elected?

Indeed, overturning these regulations isn’t straightforward. Once a rule is implemented, Congress has a 60-day window to repeal it through a simple majority. Beyond this period, the process to reverse the rule becomes significantly more complex and lengthy.

During his presidency, Donald Trump did manage to roll back emissions standards established during the Obama era, introducing less stringent regulations through his administration’s EPA. However, this overhaul wasn’t completed until 2020, towards the end of his term.

Should Trump return to office, it’s highly likely he would attempt to dismantle key elements of Biden’s climate policy, including these emission standards. The outcome of the upcoming election will be critical in determining the direction of climate and electric vehicle initiatives through the decade, whether it leans towards further advancements or faces obstacles.

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