What to know about the Clean Auto Rule: It's not a ban on gas cars


The Biden administration's new regulation limiting tailpipe emissions from cars and light trucks will transform the U.S. automobile market, moving it away from internal combustion engines and toward a future of electric cars and hybrids.

Here's what you need to know about measurement.

In terms of reducing planet-warming emissions, this regulation goes further than any other climate rule issued by the federal government and goes further than any measure planned in the remainder of Mr. Biden’s first term.

This is partly because transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases produced by the United States. This is also because this rule is objectively ambitious. The rule is projected to remove more than seven billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years, more than all the greenhouse gases produced by the entire United States economy in a year. And, because the United States is a large auto market, analysts predict that companies making cleaner cars in the United States will begin selling them in the global market as other governments move forward or implement similar standards.

The rule does not mandate the sale of electric vehicles, and consumers can still buy and drive gas-powered cars. Rather, it requires carmakers to meet tough new average emissions limits across their entire product line; It's up to manufacturers to figure out how to meet those limitations.

Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency can limit the pollution generated by the total number of cars driven each year. EPA officials said that, as long as automakers comply with emissions rules, they can sell a mix of gasoline-powered cars, hybrids, EVs or other types of vehicles, such as cars powered by hydrogen.

This rule does not apply to the sale of used vehicles.

Starting in model year 2027, when the rule takes effect, car companies will report to the EPA the average emissions associated with all passenger vehicles they sell. Emission limits will start modestly and increase slowly in the early years of the program, increasing rapidly after 2030. Companies that do not meet emissions limits will face fines that could reach billions of dollars.

Whether American roadways will be filled with non-polluting vehicles depends on one central question: Will motorists buy them? Early adopters have turned to EVs, but sales have declined and carmakers are worried they need more time to develop the market. That's one reason the EPA pushed back the most stringent emissions requirements for auto sales until after 2030, so manufacturers can improve designs and develop more affordable models, and build out charging infrastructure.

Mr Trump has vowed to “kill” the Biden administration’s climate rules “on day one”. But now that the CAR rule is final, it will be more difficult and time-consuming for a future administration to roll it back, though not impossible. And even if it were, the Clean Air Act requires it to be replaced by some other rule controlling greenhouse pollution from vehicles.

The rules are expected to face an immediate legal challenge by a coalition of fossil fuel companies and Republican attorneys general, complaints that could reach the Supreme Court. The court's 6-3 conservative majority has, in recent years, taken steps to limit the EPA's authority. In a 2022 decision on another major EPA climate rule, the court sharply limited, but did not nullify, the agency's authority. Limit greenhouse pollution from power plants.


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