WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is planning some of the world’s toughest auto pollution limits, designed to ensure that all-electric vehicles make up up to 67 percent of new passenger cars sold in the country by 2032, according to two familiar people. with this issue.
This would be a quantum leap for the United States Only 5.8 percent of cars sold last year were all-electric — and it would surpass President Biden’s previous ambitions to have all-electric vehicles account for half of those sold in the country by 2030.
This would be the federal government’s toughest regulation on climate, and would push the United States to the forefront of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases from automobiles, a major driver of climate change. The European Union has already enacted vehicle emissions standards that are expected to stop the sale of new petrol-powered cars by 2035. Canada and Britain have proposed standards similar to the European model.
At the same time, the proposed regulations will be a major challenge for automakers. Almost every major auto company has already invested heavily in electric vehicles, but few have committed to the levels envisioned by the Biden administration. Many have encountered supply chain problems that have hampered production. Even enthusiastic manufacturers of electric models aren’t sure whether consumers will buy enough of them to make up the majority of new car sales within a decade.
The EPA’s action is likely to embolden climate activists, who are angered by the Biden administration’s recent decision to approve a massive oil drilling project on federal land in Alaska. Some within the administration argue that accelerating the transition to renewable energy, with most Americans driving electric cars, would reduce demand for oil drilled in Alaska or elsewhere.
It is expected that Michael S. Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced the proposed limits on exhaust emissions Wednesday in Detroit. The requirements aim to ensure that electric vehicles account for between 54 and 60 percent of all new cars sold in the United States by 2030, with that number rising to 64 to 67 percent of new car sales by 2032, according to people familiar with the matter. Details, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not been made public.
Accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States requires other important changes, including building millions of new electric vehicle charging stations, overhauling electric grids to accommodate the energy needs of those chargers and securing minerals supplies, among others. Materials for batteries.
The environmental agenda of the Biden administration
The proposed regulation, which will be subject to a public comment period and can be changed by the government before becoming final, is sure to face legal challenges. It could also become an issue in the 2024 presidential campaign, as a future administration could roll back or weaken it.
“This is a huge undertaking,” said John Bozzella, president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents major automakers in the United States and abroad. “It is nothing less than a complete transformation of the base of the auto industry and the auto market.”
In a statement released Friday night, EPA spokeswoman Maria Michalos did not confirm the new targets but said the agency was working on new standards as directed by the president to “accelerate the transition to a zero-emission transportation future, protecting people and the planet.”
The new regulations will come on the heels of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which helped boost demand for electric vehicles by providing tax incentives of up to $7,500 to car buyers as well as billions in incentives for battery manufacturing, critical metal processing and mining.
Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases generated by the United States, and it is the second largest polluter on the planet after China. Rapidly phasing out gasoline-powered cars along with electric models would help Mr. Biden deliver on his pledge to halve the country’s emissions by 2030 and effectively eliminate them by mid-century.
The proposed automobile emissions rule is even more urgent than the goal Biden set in a White House speech in 2021. Speaking on the South Lawn and surrounded by a line of electric vehicles, including a Ford F-150 Lightning, a Chevrolet released Bolt EV and a Jeep Wrangler, Mr. Biden issued an executive order calling for federal policies to ensure that half of new cars sold will be all-electric by 2030.
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“There’s a vision of the future that’s starting to happen right now,” Biden said at the time, “the future of the electric vehicle industry — battery electric, hybrid electric, fuel cell electric.”
But climate policy experts said the transition to zero-emission vehicles must move faster to avoid planetary catastrophe. A report released by the International Energy Agency in 2021 found that countries would have to stop sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 to keep average global temperatures from increasing by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels. After this point, scientists say, the effects of catastrophic heat waves, floods, droughts, crop failures and species extinction will become much more difficult for humanity to deal with. The planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1°C.
Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a research organization, said that while the market has begun the transition to electric vehicles, government action is needed to make sure the electric vehicle revolution is complete. “Everyone who has seen this movie knows that the market is volatile,” Mr. Kodjak said. “What if there is a downturn in the market? What if battery metals don’t work? Without these stringent standards that have a clear path in timing, none of the players can be sure that this will happen.”
The proposed rule would not require electric cars to make up a certain number or percentage of sales. Instead, it would require automakers to ensure that the total number of vehicles they sell each year does not exceed a certain emissions limit. This limit would be so strict that it would force automakers to ensure that two-thirds of the cars they sell will be all-electric by 2032, according to people familiar with the matter.
Experts say the proposed regulation would sync up federal action with a move by California to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035. Even manufacturers who are critical of the regulations say they would rather deal with one set of rules, rather than meet specifications from California that vary. on federal requirements.
But there are still plenty of hurdles to a smooth transition to electric vehicles. One of the biggest is the need for millions of electric vehicle charging stations. Experts say it wouldn’t be possible for electric cars to move from one place to another without making electric charging stations as ubiquitous as corner gas stations. The Infrastructure Act of 2021 provided $7.5 billion to build a network of about 500,000 charging stations along federal highways, but a January report From S&P Global concluded that millions are needed.
The shift could also spell economic disruption for American auto workers, as electric cars require less than half as many workers to build as gasoline-powered cars.
“We’ve dealt with job losses before through technology, but when you talk about the speed of that, it’s hard to understand that we won’t lose jobs,” he said. Mark Dipaoli said a United Auto Workers Local 600 leader, in a recent interview at the union’s headquarters near the Ford Rouge manufacturing plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Auto job losses could have political consequences for Biden, who will need voters in industrial states like Michigan and Ohio if he chooses to run for a second term. As they worked on the new regulation, administration officials held weekly phone calls to union leaders in an effort to reassure them.
Mr. Biden, a self-described “car guy” who launched his campaign as “the most pro-union guy I’ve ever seen,” has repeatedly tried to present the transition as an economic opportunity, asserting that it would create new jobs in the clean energy economy.
“We will build a different future with a future — a future with clean energy and good-paying jobs,” said Mr. Biden he said in a speech last summer. “We must retain and recruit construction trades and union electricians for jobs in wind, solar, hydrogen and nuclear, and create more and better jobs.”
Mr. Biden has worked to ensure that only US-made electric vehicles qualify for the tax incentives offered by the Inflation Control Act — though the requirement for them to be collected by union workers has been dropped.
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