Environmentalists Warn White House Not To Go Easy on Automakers

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Jane Lu
Updated on Jun 27, 2022 · 3 min read
Environmentalists are concerned that President
Joe Biden
will adopt modest limits on
vehicle emissions
. Over the past few months the Biden administration has been working on getting an infrastructure plan passed through Congress to improve transportation and promote
electric vehicles
Activists are hoping that Biden mandates emissions curbs that are at least as strict as the ones from the Obama administration, according to
The Biden Administration has been working to accelerate EV adoption

The Obama standard

Two dozen major environmental groups formally requested President Biden to return to the standards established by Obama. During the Obama administration, car manufacturers were required to reduce the emissions of their fleets by 5% per year, as reported by Autoblog. This policy was reduced by President Trump to just 1.5%.
During the Trump era, California took charge of emission regulations. The Golden State already had a reputation of having some
unique driving laws
. California required automakers to reduce their fleet emissions by 3.7% annually, but that requirement came with some loopholes.
Most notably was the double-counting of EVs. In reality, automakers only reduced fleet emissions by 2.7% annually between 2016 and 2020. This wasn't a big enough reduction to satisfy most environmental groups.

The Biden Administration’s emissions reduction plan

Biden was slow to announce his vehicle emission policy during his early days in office. Managing the pandemic and negotiating a
major infrastructure bill
have taken priority. But in recent weeks, the administration has started to formulate its emissions policy.
Early speculation had environmentalists worried. Many feared that the administration's emissions policy wouldn't be enough to combat climate change. Despite this concern, Biden's goals may exceed Obama's.
According to the
Associated Press
, the 5% emissions reduction requirements will return in 2025. This will increase in subsequent years, likely between 6% to 7%. Biden has also hinted that he may require that 40% of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.
This is an improvement from the previouss standards but critics say it doesn't go far enough. The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity have been particularly vocal. These groups believe that action against climate change needs to be more aggressive.

The need for long-term emissions standards

Dave Cooke, a senior vehicle analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, has expressed what needs to be done to combat climate change. In an interview with Autoblog, Cooke advised that all new vehicles should be emission-free by 2035. Cooke wants the Environmental Protection Agency and Biden to establish year-by-year regulations that will help reach this goal.
Contrary to what you may expect, environmental groups have warned against expanding
tax credits for EVs
. Cooke believes that this will discourage automakers from improving the efficiency of gas-powered cars that will still be sold during the next several years.
The transition to EVs will take more than a decade. In the meantime, gas-powered vehicles still need to have their emissions controlled better.

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