Biden To Return California’s Authority To Set Auto Emission Standards More Stringent Than EPA

The Biden administration is preparing to reinstate California’s authority to set auto emissions rules that are more stringent than federal standards. California’s regulatory authority over mobile emissions was rescinded by the Trump Administration in 2019.

Restoration of regulatory authority over automobile emissions represents a return of California’s influence on the nation’s climate and clean air policies.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia follow California’s tougher emission standards, representing over a third of all cars sold annually in the U.S.  [Including Pennsylvania, most of the time.]

The outsize automobile market these states collectively represent leaves automakers with little choice but to manufacture all their vehicles to meet the stricter California tailpipe standards.

Meanwhile, federal regulators are looking to California for inspiration as they draft new national standards designed to meet the Biden Administration’s pledge that half of all new cars sold in the United States by 2030 will be electric vehicles.

Towards that goal, the U.S. EPA is preparing strict new CO2 limits from buses, delivery vans, tractor-trailers and other heavy-duty trucks.

The new rules mark the first time since 2001 that tailpipe standards have been tightened for heavy-duty vehicles. The new federal regulations are drawn from emission standards recently enacted by California.

The California truck rule, enacted late last year, requires manufacturers to produce progressively cleaner trucks between 2024 and 2031.

While the new truck rule will focus on reducing nitrogen dioxide, it is not expected to significantly limit emissions of carbon dioxide.

However, both California and the federal government are also expected in the coming years to begin work on an even more aggressive truck standard designed to compel an eventual shift to all-electric trucks.

Unfortunately, California fails to report that there is no such thing as a “zero emission” vehicle. While EVs do not have tailpipe emissions, they are charged using electricity generated at local power plants, which do produce emissions.

Furthermore, manufacturing the battery for an EV requires tremendous amounts of energy, and EV battery recycling is tedious and difficult.

Without the ability to be recycled, EV batteries risk offsetting any environmental benefits by contributing more waste.

The bottom line is that a vehicle’s total emissions should account for its entire life cycle: production and resourcing, lifetime usage, and end-of-life disposal after use.

The EV market remains small as the majority of consumers still opt for gasoline powered vehicles when given a choice.

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