EPA proposes new vehicle standards for cleaner air

In an effort to accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean vehicles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed federal vehicle emissions standards in April. The proposed standards seek to improve air quality for communities across the nation, especially communities that have borne the burden of polluted air. 

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” said Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator. “These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness.” 

The first set of proposed standards announced, the “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles,” builds on EPA’s existing emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks for MYs 2023 through 2026. The proposal retains the proven regulatory design of previous EPA standards for light-duty vehicles, but leverages advances in clean car technology to further reduce both climate pollution and smog- and soot-forming emissions. A second set of proposed standards, the “Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3,” would apply to heavy-duty vocational vehicles (such as delivery trucks, refuse haulers or dump trucks, public utility trucks, transit, shuttle, school buses) and trucks typically used to haul freight. These standards would complement the criteria pollutant standards for MY 2027 and beyond heavy-duty vehicles that EPA finalized in December 2022 and represent the third phase of EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) felt the measures announced by EPA did not adequately account for the environmental benefits of low-carbon ethanol.

“While we share the administration’s goal of lowering emissions, we are frustrated that EPA appears to be turning exclusively to electric vehicles to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The limitations on raw materials, charging infrastructure, consumer preferences, and other factors dictate the need for a wider range of options to immediately mitigate carbon emissions,” said NCGA in a statement. “We urge EPA and the Biden administration to focus on outcomes and opening pathways for all low-carbon fuels and technologies to help meet these strong standards, rather than appearing to focus on only enabling one technology in electric vehicles. Vehicle standards should help drive a level playing field that allows consumers access to a variety of clean vehicle and fuel options, including low-carbon ethanol, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52%.

“In previous rulemakings and prior to this proposal, we have urged EPA to set a federal minimum clean octane standard in conjunction with stricter vehicle standards. These cleaner fuels from mid-level ethanol blends would support advanced vehicles, offering an essential pathway for achieving significant GHG and complementary criteria pollutant emissions reductions.”

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