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EPA tightens emission standards for the auto industry

On Monday, December 21, 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) announced the tightest-ever auto emission standards in order to reduce one of the major sources of carbon dioxide emissions that are warming our planet. This new, more stringent rule will require passenger vehicles to travel an average of 55 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2026, from under 38 miles per gallon today.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, representing 29 percent of the country’s total emissions. Implementing the new rule announced by E.P.A. would prevent the release of 3.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide through 2050, and would save roughly 360 billion gallons of gasoline from being burned. This would lead to a 15 percent yearly reduction in the country’s gasoline consumption, and drivers could save up to $1,080 in fuel costs over the lifetime of more efficient vehicles.

“The final rule for light duty vehicles reflects core principles of this administration: We followed the science, we listened to stakeholders, and 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,” said Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the E.P.A.

This rule will also help shift the US car market towards electric vehicles, which currently make up only a very small percentage of the cars Americans use (approximately two percent in 2020, and rising only slightly this year).

“E.P.A.’s final rule for greenhouse gas emissions is even more aggressive than originally proposed, requiring a substantial increase in electric vehicle sales, well above the four percent of all light-duty sales today,” said John Bozzella, the president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group representing the world’s largest auto companies.

 “Achieving the goals of this final rule will undoubtedly require enactment of supportive governmental policies – including consumer incentives, substantial infrastructure growth, fleet requirements, and support for U.S. manufacturing and supply chain development.”

However, Biden administration’s promises to halt transportation-related emissions by largely replacing traditional cars with electric vehicles was met with skepticism by people like Dan Becker, the director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign.

“Before this presidential term ends, the administration must issue long-term standards strong enough to usher in the age of electric vehicles,” he said. “They must close the loopholes and force automakers to actually deliver electric vehicles, rather than just churning out promises to make them.”

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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