‘EV Mandate’: Biden Admin Finalizes Stringent Tailpipe Emissions Standards

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The Biden administration unveiled its final tailpipe emissions standards for vehicles Wednesday, effectively requiring about 67% of all light-duty vehicles sold after model year 2032 to be electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrids.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalized standards rolled back some of the de facto EV production benchmarks for manufacturers proposed initially, but still require automakers to reach the final standards set forth in the agency’s April 2023 proposal. The agency finalized the standards as the American EV market is struggling: demand has not grown as quickly as expected, manufacturers are losing billions on their EV product lines, executives have backed away from near-term production targets and Biden administration subsidy programs to facilitate the creation of a nationwide EV charging network have so far failed to make much of an impact.

“Make no mistake, this is the Biden Administration doubling down on a proposal to forcibly remove from the market a majority of the cars that everyday consumers currently buy and use,” O.H. Skinner, the executive director of the Alliance for Consumers, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “While an extreme EV mandate might be popular in progressive enclaves, and with federal employees who live in Washington, D.C., a shift to electric vehicles along the lines EPA has announced will make lives worse for everyday consumers while costing them more for the privilege of having their lives inconvenienced.” (RELATED: Biden Admin Classifies Martha’s Vineyard, Elite Locales As ‘Low-Income’ To Push EV Charger Subsidies)

The EPA opted to weaken the emissions standards for 2027 through 2029, ostensibly to make it easier for manufacturers to comply with the regulation earlier on. However, to offset the slack provided in the early years, the standards are stronger between 2030 and 2032 in order to arrive at the end goal set forth in the initial proposal.

“Built on the totality of our updated analysis and consideration of the public comments, the agency determined that while our final standards would land in the same place as the proposal in 2032, it was appropriate to phase-in the standards more gradually, with a more gradual ramp rate of stringency in the early years,” an EPA spokesperson told the DCNF. “This approach provides significant emissions reductions achievably and affordably, while allowing automakers more time and flexibility to meet the 2032 standards. Further, it still achieves significant emissions reductions and allows for a wide range of options for consumer choice.”

The EPA “is not setting forth production targets” with this rule, the spokesperson added.

The agency also included several provisions in the final rule intended to make it easier for manufacturers to comply, including allowing plug-in hybrid vehicles to count toward emissions reductions. For example, one way to come into compliance by 2032 could be 56% of vehicles being pure EVs and 13% being plug-in hybrids, a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

“With transportation as the largest source of U.S. climate emissions, these strongest-ever pollution standards for cars solidify America’s leadership in building a clean transportation future and creating good-paying American jobs, all while advancing President Biden’s historic climate agenda,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said of the final rule. “The standards will slash over 7 billion tons of climate pollution, improve air quality in overburdened communities, and give drivers more clean vehicle choices while saving them money.”

The Biden administration was reportedly motivated to modify the standards to curry favor with labor unions, particularly the United Auto Workers (UAW). The UAW recently endorsed President Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign, but concerns about an EV transition remain for some rank-and-file members who are worried that the shift in production will imperil union jobs; these concerns played a role in the union’s strike in 2023.

“At a time when millions of Americans are struggling with high costs and inflation, the Biden administration has finalized a regulation that will unequivocally eliminate most new gas cars and traditional hybrids from the U.S. market in less than a decade,” American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers President Chet Thompson and American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a joint statement. “As much as the President and EPA claim to have ‘eased’ their approach, nothing could be further from the truth. This regulation will make new gas-powered vehicles unavailable or prohibitively expensive for most Americans. For them, this wildly unpopular policy is going to feel and function like a ban.”

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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