Environmental Protection Agency Announces New Emissions Standards for Vehicles : NPR

The Biden administration, reversing another Trump pushback, is tightening vehicle fuel economy standards. This comes as most of Biden’s other climate plans are under threat.


A day after Sen. Joe Manchin delivered a critical blow to President Biden’s climate ambitions, the administration has relied on its executive authority to cut carbon emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced new exhaust emission standards for cars nationwide. NPR’s Nathan Rott reports.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Transportation is the single largest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases in the United States and automotive emissions…


ROTT: …The stuff we spit out our tailpipes is a big part of that. It is also harmful to human health, contributing to asthma, cancer and heart problems. Nsedu Obot Witherspoon is Executive Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network.


NSEDU OBOT WITHERSPOON: The undisputed, peer-reviewed literature has shown us that there is a significant association between neighborhood traffic and asthma and upper respiratory-type problems in our children.

ROTT: Witherspoon and other climate and health advocates joined senior EPA brass to announce the ambitious new auto standards yesterday. And they will do a lot to reduce pollution. This is EPA Administrator Michael Regan.


MICHAEL REGAN: We estimate that through 2050, this program will save American drivers up to $420 billion in fuel, gasoline that you won’t have to put in the tank.

ROTT: EPA says new standards, which would require new passenger vehicles to average a tag value of at least 40 miles per gallon by 2026, will cut billions of tons of gas emissions greenhouse gas emissions, reductions that are necessary if the United States is to significantly reduce its outsized contribution to climate change. But Dan Becker of the Center for Biological Diversity says they don’t go far enough.

DAN BECKER: I think these rules are a bit more of a speed bump than the U-turn they need to avoid climate catastrophe.

ROTT: Climate change is already here. And to avoid the most catastrophic scenarios Becker alludes to, the United States must drastically reduce its carbon footprint, a goal that suffered a major setback this week when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced he would not support not a major climate bill. Becker says that means Biden is now limited.

BECKER: The president really only has one major option, to reduce global warming emissions. And these are strict standards when it comes to clean cars. And these are not strong enough.

ROTT: Challenges to the new rules are likely coming from Republican-run states. But Becker doesn’t think the auto industry, which has battled similar rules from the Obama administration, will fight much because automakers are now selling in a global market. And the future looks increasingly electric.

Nathan Rott, NPR News.

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