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Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 11, 2022

EPA tightens fuel efficiency rules for cars and light trucks

Soon after he took office, President Joe Biden told the Environmental Protection Agency to set new fuel efficiency standards, and by the end of 2021, it did.

The agency's final rule set higher targets for new cars and light trucks from model year 2023 to 2026. 

The Trump administration scrapped aggressive targets set under President Barack Obama. Under Trump's rules, the goals rose about 1.5% each year. 

Under the new rules, they go up between 5% to 10% annually. By model year 2026, car makers' fleet average would be 40 miles per gallon. Overall, fuel efficiency in 2026 would be nearly one-third higher than in 2021.

"The final program represents the most ambitious light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards ever established," the agency said in its Dec. 20, 2021, press release.

The EPA predicted that fuel savings would end up cutting drivers' costs by over $1,000 over the life of a vehicle.

The change drew praise from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental advocacy group.

"The United States is getting back on the road to cleaning up transportation pollution," the NRDC said in a post on its website. "These standards will cut carbon emissions by 3.1 billion metric tons by 2050, equivalent to two full years of emissions from all transportation in the United States."

The auto industry, which has committed tens of billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles that have no tailpipe emissions, said it will need government help to meet the new standards. 

"Achieving the goals of this final rule will undoubtedly require enactment of supportive governmental policies — including consumer incentives, substantial infrastructure growth, fleet requirements, and support for U.S. manufacturing and supply chain development," said John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group.

The new rules go into effect in February 2022.

We rate this Promise Kept.


Our Sources

Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Standards for Passenger Vehicles, Paving Way for a Zero-Emissions Future, Dec. 20, 2021

Federal Register, Revised 2023 and Later Model Year Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards, Dec. 30, 2021

Environmental Protection Agency, By the Numbers, Dec. 20, 2021

National Resources Defense Council, Accelerating Progress on Clean Vehicles, Dec. 21, 2021

Alliance for Automotive Innovation, Auto Innovators Statement on Final EPA GHG Rule, Dec. 20, 2021

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 21, 2021

Biden puts quest for new fuel economy rules in motion

President Joe Biden's multifaceted executive order on climate, health and environment — signed on his first day — told agency heads to get going on crafting new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. 

The order opens the door to changes in two regulations finalized under former President Donald Trump. The Trump era rules called for 1.5% yearly improvements in efficiency, down from 5% each year under rules set during the Obama administration. Trump's policy denied California's authority to set higher targets, setting off a court battle.

The agencies have until April 2021 to offer proposed rules that would suspend, revise or rescind the Trump rule on California's authority. They have until July 2021 to do the same for fuel efficiency standards.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 28% of the U.S. total. Within that, cars and light trucks are the biggest polluter, releasing about 59% of the sector's greenhouse gases.



Biden's order called for establishing "ambitious, job-creating" standards, and said the new rules must reflect the views of states, labor unions and the auto industry.

The regulatory process is not fast, and Biden has taken the first step. We rate this promise In the Works.


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