Energy, Sustainability

EPA Sets GHG Standards For Passenger Vehicles

On December 20, 2021, the EPA announced it is finalizing the most ambitious federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks ever.

“The final rule for light duty vehicles reflect core principles of this Administration: We followed the science, we listened to stakeholders, and we are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet – and save families money at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a news release. “At EPA, our priority is to protect public health, especially in overburdened communities, while responding to the President’s ambitious climate agenda. Today we take a giant step forward in delivering on those goals, while paving the way toward an all-electric, zero-emissions transportation future.”

The final rule addresses model year (MY) 2023 to 2026 and “will reach a projected industry-wide target of 161 grams CO2/mile, or 40 miles per gallon (mpg) value on fuel economy window stickers in 2026.”

Other details of the final rule are:

  • The final emissions standards targets for 2023–2026 increase in stringency by between 5% to 10% in each model year.
  • The standards they replace increased in stringency by only 1.5% year over year.
  • By MY2026, the final emissions targets are 47 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2)/mile lower than the standards they replace.

The EPA estimates these standards will result in 3.1 billion tons of avoided CO2 emissions by 2050.

Other highlights of the new rule include:

  • The rule’s benefits exceeding the costs by $120 billion to $190 billion through 2050.
  • Between $8 billion and $19 billion of the total benefits through 2050 resulting from improved public health because of reduced emissions of non-GHG pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants that contribute to fine particulates (PM-2.5).
  • Reducing gasoline consumption in the United States. The EPA estimates reductions of more than 360 billion gallons, reaching a 15% reduction in annual U.S. gasoline consumption in 2050.
  • Saving car owners money. On average, over the lifetime of an individual MY2026 vehicle, the EPA estimates that the fuel savings will exceed the initial increase in vehicle costs by approximately $1,080 for consumers.
  • Total fuel savings overall are between $210 billion and $420 billion through 2050.
  • Maintaining momentum toward expanding market share of zero emission vehicles, with the standards resulting in a battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle market share of 17% by MY2026.

“While these standards are ambitious, they provide adequate lead time for manufacturers to comply at reasonable costs,” states the EPA news release.  “EPA’s analysis shows manufacturers can comply with the final standards with modest increases in the numbers of electric vehicles entering the fleet. By MY 2026, EPA projects that the final standards can be met with sales of about 17 percent electric vehicles (EVs), and wider uptake of advanced gasoline engine and vehicle technologies available today.

“Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $7.5 billion is allocated for EV charging and related programs with a target of having 500,000 public charging stations by 2030, with a focus on creating a convenient national network and providing equitable access to rural drivers and overburdened and underserved communities. More than $7 billion is set aside for investments in battery manufacturing, materials, and recycling to drive down costs, increase sustainability, and build the batteries that will power the future vehicles here in the United States. The surge in charging infrastructure investments coupled with battery technology advancements, increased range, and reduced battery and vehicle costs are making EVs more attractive than ever to consumers.”

The EPA also announced it will initiate “separate rulemaking to establish multi-pollutant emission standards under the Clean Air Act for MY 2027 and later that will speed the transition of the light-duty vehicle fleet toward a zero-emissions future consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order, ‘Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks.’”