U.S. environment agency urged by 21 states to toughen vehicle emissions rewrite

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C.

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A group of 21 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, and several major U.S. cities urged the Biden administration to finalize significantly stricter vehicle emissions rules than it has proposed.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August called for reversing the Trump-era loosening of vehicle emissions rules with a new plan to boost efficiency 10% in the 2023 model year and aim for a fleet average of 52 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2026.

But the states and cities want more stringent rules saying automakers have enough time to meet tougher rules.

"There is no need to wait to require further deployment of these technologies or to delay the massive economic and public health benefits of reducing these emissions," wrote the state attorneys general, led by California and joined by New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and others.

"EPA must begin now to address the devastating risks of climate change and the on-going harms facing communities," they said.

Other states signing include New York, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in separate comments also called for greater stringency, arguing the EPA's proposed standard "is too weak."

ACEEE said EPA's analysis showed "that the proposed rule will only lead to an EV market share of 8% by MY 2026."

That was too low to meet President Joe Biden's target of 50% EVs by 2030, it said in its official comments on the proposal.

General Motors said it backed the "emission reduction goals" in the EPA proposal, which it called "historically stringent" but did not weigh in EPA's request for comment on whether to hike 2026 requirements.

In March 2020, Trump's Republican administration rolled back the previous Obama administration's standards to require only 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026. Obama had required 5% annual increases.

Trump's rewrite mandated 2026 fuel efficiency of just 43.3 mpg.

The EPA projects Biden's requirements will cost $150 billion to $240 billion through 2025 in higher vehicle costs, but save motorists $120 billion to $250 billion in fuel costs. They will have net benefits of $86 billion to $140 billion including other matters like improved public health and reduced pollution.

EPA said by 2050 the proposal would "reduce gasoline consumption by more than 290 million barrels" a nearly 10% reduction.

In 2020, EPA said the Trump plan would hike U.S. oil consumption by about 500,000 barrels per day.

The transportation sector is the largest U.S. source of greenhouse emissions, representing 29% of total emissions. Light-duty vehicles account for 58% of the transportation emissions.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Richard Pullin)

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