- The EPA regulates and lowers the quantity of emissions that can spew from the transportation network—in effect, raising fuel economy requirements—and the next stage will be announced Wednesday, according to insiders.
- The new rules will affect model year 2027 through 2032 vehicles and do not ban internal-combustion engines or force EV purchases.
- Similar fuel-economy regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are also expected this month.
Cleaner air and more electric vehicles are the goals of a move expected next week when the Biden Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly will announce what insiders are already calling the toughest-ever emissions rules for new cars and light trucks. The Associated Press reported on the planned announcement, having talked to people familiar with details of the proposal and who asked not to be named because it hasn't yet been made public.
This Is Not a Gas-Engine Ban
What the new rules won't do is ban new internal-combustion-engine vehicles outright or force people to buy electric vehicles. Instead, they'd the next logical step in the U.S. government's overall push to clean up our transportation system. President Biden's official target is for half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles, which for the government means all-electric, plug-in-hybrid, or fuel-cell vehicles.
The stricter rules will affect model year 2027–2032 vehicles and deal with carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Los Angeles Times, automakers have been pushing behind the scenes to delay implementation of the new emission limits for "a few years," but we won't learn more until the proposed rules are released this week.
The EPA's Not Talking (Yet)
The EPA sets emissions standards for new vehicles sold in the U.S. in batches. For example, emissions rules for 2021–2026 model year vehicles were finalized in the spring of 2020. Those rules ended up being less strict than initially proposed. The original proposed rule would have effectively required an industry fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year, but that was amended first to 46.7 mpg and then to 40.4 mpg in the final rule.
The last time the EPA issued a press statement about new light-duty-vehicle emission standards for the 2027–2032 model years, it said that the final MY 2026 rules "set the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) program on track to provide a strong launch point for the Agency's next phase of standards for MY 2027 and beyond." Those new rules, the ones now expected next week, "will speed the transition of the light-duty vehicle fleet toward a zero-emissions future consistent with President Biden's [plans]," the EPA said in December 2021. The EPA declined to issue any official statements regarding the new rules, telling the LA Times that the rules are still under interagency review.
The new standards are set to be announced Wednesday. The EPA is also expected to update emissions rules for heavy-duty trucks and power plants this month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also expected to announce its new fuel economy standards in April.
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Sebastian Blanco has been writing about electric vehicles, hybrids, and hydrogen cars since 2006. His articles and car reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Automotive News, Reuters, SAE, Autoblog, InsideEVs, Trucks.com, Car Talk, and other outlets. His first green-car media event was the launch of the Tesla Roadster, and since then he has been tracking the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles and discovering the new technology's importance not just for the auto industry, but for the world as a whole. Throw in the recent shift to autonomous vehicles, and there are more interesting changes happening now than most people can wrap their heads around. You can find him on Twitter or, on good days, behind the wheel of a new EV.