US unveils stricter exhaust emission standards for new vehicles

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg today unveiled tougher fuel economy standards that he said would save Americans money at the pump, as well as help reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

“When these standards go into effect, Americans buying a new vehicle will spend less on gas than they would have if we hadn’t taken this step,” Buttigieg said at a Friday news conference in Washington, DC. “We estimate that today’s rule will prevent 5.5 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere between now and 2050.”

By 2026, the average new vehicle in the U.S. will have 49 miles of travel per gallon of gasoline (mpg) by revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, Buttigieg said. The new standards will increase fuel economy by 8 percent per year for model year 2024-2025 and 10 percent per year for model year 2026. They will also increase the estimated fleet average by nearly 10 miles per gallon for model year 2026, compared to model year 2021.

“That means if you fill up four times a month, based on those averages, that would be three times a month by model year 2026,” Buttigieg says. “And that, of course, would save a typical American household hundreds of dollars.”

The new standards, first unveiled last year, are part of a larger effort by President Joe Biden to reverse Donald Trump’s rules and return to nearly a decade-old Obama-era fuel economy standards. year ago.

Last August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed new standards that would increase fuel efficiency by 8 percent per year for vehicle model years 2024-2026 and increase the estimated fleet average by 12 miles per gallon for model year 2026, from model year 2021. According to the new rules will save car owners an estimated $140 billion in fuel savings for new vehicles sold by 2030 and $470 billion by the middle of the century.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in a series of parallel rules that passenger cars should average 55 miles per gallon of gasoline (mpg) by 2026 — slightly more than Obama’s target of 54 mpg, but a big increase from the 38-mpg rule set. established by Trump. The EPA estimated that the new standard would prevent the emission of 3.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide through 2050 and save car owners $420 billion in fuel costs.

Buttigieg also called on Congress to approve Biden’s stalled Build Back Better package, which would introduce a series of environmental initiatives, including tax cuts for the purchase of new electric vehicles. “Those are, for example, the American-made electric pickup trucks that we saw a lot of ads for during the Super Bowl, from about $40,000 through the 1920s,” he said. “We could do that with policies that are available now.”

The need for new EV tax credits ties into the problem with the cars on American roads today, which is that many of them are old. There are currently about 280 million cars and trucks on the road in the US, of which only 3 percent are electric.

Americans typically buy 16 to 17 million cars a year, which would mean it would take about 16 years to sell EVs alone to completely replace all the gasoline cars currently on the road. We would also need a total ban on the sale and use of gas-powered cars, and so far the Biden administration seems unwilling to do that.

Last year, Biden signed an executive order ordering the federal government to spend billions of dollars to buy electric vehicles, upgrade federal buildings and harness government power to switch to cleaner forms of electricity. And just this week, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up the extraction and processing of key minerals used in renewable energy batteries and electric vehicles.

The rules would also enforce the so-called “light-duty truck loophole,” in which larger and heavier vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, are allowed to pollute more than smaller vehicles. The US auto industry has essentially stopped producing small vehicles and sedans in favor of large trucks and SUVs, which have higher margins and are more profitable for automakers. (An NHTSA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about the light truck loophole.)

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