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Biden administration finalizes rule expected to require significant shift to EVs

The Biden administration finalized a rule Wednesday that’s expected to make a significant amount of the new car market electric or hybrid.

Under the rule, 56 percent of the new vehicles on the market in 2032 could be battery electric, while an additional 13 percent could be plug-in hybrids. Under this scenario, just 29 percent of cars would be gas-powered, while an additional 3 percent would be other hybrids. 

Only 16 percent of new vehicle sales were electric and hybrid cars last year. 

The rule is a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s climate agenda; the cars and other light-duty vehicles it regulates currently make up about 17 percent of U.S. planet-warming emissions. The rule also regulates medium-duty vehicles, including vans and pickup trucks. 

But the regulation is expected to be highly contentious — with a proposed version last year garnering pushback from Republicans and industry, along with the auto workers union.

In the wake of the criticism, the administration made some changes to the rule, which covers vehicle model years 2027 through 2032 — slowing down the transition to EVs with less stringent requirements for some of the rule’s the earlier years. 

For model year 2029 under the proposed rule, for example, 55 percent of vehicles were expected to be electric, and 45 percent were expected to be gas-powered, while the new rule has gas-powered cars making up 49 percent of sales that year. 

In a written statement, on the rule, President Biden reiterated his commitment to autoworker jobs. 

“Today, we’re setting new pollution standards for cars and trucks,” he said “U.S. workers will lead the world on autos making clean cars and trucks, each stamped ‘Made in America.’ You have my word.”

The rhetoric emphasizing workers comes as his administration’s EV agenda has come under criticism from the Trump campaign as being bad for auto workers, though the auto workers union has endorsed Biden.

Overall, the rule is expected to prevent 7.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2055 — about four times the emissions of the whole U.S. transportation sector in 2021.

In 2055, it is also expected to prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths and reduce the number of heart attacks because of reductions in pollution. 

Republicans vowed immediately to try to undo the rule, saying they would try to vote to overturn it.

“This rule is delusional. This is the Biden administration’s attempt to get rid of the internal-combustion engine without congressional authority. Together, we will be introducing Congressional Review Act legislation to overturn Biden’s EV mandate,” said a joint written statement from Sens. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). 

Their effort is unlikely to be successful, as such action requires either presidential approval or a two-thirds majority from Congress. 

And the oil industry lobby groups have threatened to sue over the rule.

“Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, Congress has to make a decision whether to protect consumer choice, U.S. manufacturing workers and our hard-won energy security by overturning this deeply flawed regulation. Short of that, our organizations are certainly prepared to challenge it in court,” Chet Thompson, CEO of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and Mike Sommers, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said in a joint statement.

But, it received praise from the auto industry lobby, which praised the short-term slowing of the rules, saying it gave automakers more time to adjust. 

“Moderating the pace of EV adoption in 2027, 2028, 2029 and 2030 was the right call because it prioritizes more reasonable electrification targets in the next few (very critical) years of the EV transition,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation. 

The rule, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is technically not a mandate for electric vehicles or any specific vehicle technology. 

Instead, it sets pollution limits for automakers’ vehicle fleets — but the standards are so stringent they are unlikely to be met with improvements to gas-powered cars alone, meaning they are expected to shift the market toward electric or other low-carbon options. 

Officials said that the estimate the EPA gave in last year’s rule only looked at electric vehicles and did not model hybrid vehicles.

The rules are actually based on limits on average greenhouse gas emissions. For the near-term, those limits are higher than proposed: allowing up to 112 grams of carbon dioxide per mile in the year 2029 as opposed to the proposal’s more stringent 99 grams per mile. The rules set equivalent limits for the program’s final year, 2032, under which the administration’s previous estimate said that two thirds of new car sales could be electric.

Updated at 1:44 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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