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EPA Announces Stricter Emissions Standards To Bump Fleet Average to 40 MPG

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【Summary】The EPA finalized the new emissions standards earlier this month and affects vehicles from the 2023 model year to 2026.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Dec 27, 2021 8:15 AM PT
EPA Announces Stricter Emissions Standards To Bump Fleet Average to 40 MPG

President Barack Obama came out with strict emissions standards, before President Donald Trump rolled them back. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting its foot down on emissions standards by introducing its strictest guidelines ever. The agency itself calls the new rules the "most ambitious federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks ever." The new rules will affect vehicles from 2023 to 2026 model years, with the EPA announcing that a new set of standards will be introduced for 2027 model year vehicles.

Much Tighter Regulations

Before we dive into the new regulations that the EPA finalized, we should point out that the EPA does not set the standards for fuel economy in the U.S. That is left up to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Still, they two need to work hand-in-hand, as stricter emissions regulations will affect overall fuel economy regulations. For instance, the new regulations will see the fleet mpg average to roughly 40 in 2026. That's a large increase compared to the 38 mpg average that was proposed earlier.

Speaking of what was proposed earlier this year, the Biden administration stated that it would undo the Trump administration's decision to roll back emissions standards. The changes were proposed earlier this August with a fleet average of 32 mpg. So, the EPA's new regulations are incredibly strict. For comparison's sake, the new regulations are even stricter than the ones that were proposed by President Obama.

The reasoning behind the strict emissions regulations is to decrease emissions in the U.S. The new regulations are expected to prevent 3.1 billion tons of CO2 emissions from getting into the air by 2050. This should greatly improve the quality of air throughout the country and improve overall public health. The EPA also claims that the regulations will result in $190 billion in "net benefits" for Americans. Part of that savings come from consumers having to spend less on fuel.

Let's make one thing clear, this does not mean that full-size pickup trucks will disappear. You'll still be able to buy the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 at the dealership. You see, these emissions standards will force automakers to increase their average fleet mpg. So, if Chevrolet, Ram, and Ford continue to make pickup trucks, they'll have to come out with more electric cars or introduce more fuel-efficient powertrains for existing vehicles. Thanks to the new rules, we could see more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles, which will result in more affordable prices for consumers.

More EVs Could Be Coming

The EPA believes that the new rules could see electrified vehicles, like EVs and plug-in hybrid, account for 17 percent of sales in the U.S. by 2026. The organization believes that its new rules give automakers "adequate lead time for manufacturers to comply at reasonable costs." While automakers are sure to put up a fight and lobby against these changes, the EPA states that these  new regulations are "based on sound science and grounded in a rigorous assessment of current and future technologies with supporting analysis that shows the standards are achievable and affordable." Automakers can meet these requirements if it chooses to do so, but will put up a fight because they don't want to.

The new regulations come at a time when outside groups requested them. The Sierra Club stated that more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the EPA, requesting the organization to come out with stricter emissions regulations. Attorneys general from 21 states, the District of Columbia, and six cities in the U.S. also urged the EPA to come out with stronger regulations.

The U.S. is far behind other nations that have had far stricter regulations in place for years. This doesn't put the U.S. on par with others, but it's a step in the right direction. We're interested to see which automakers choose to follow the regulations or put up a fight against them.

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