Autos & Transportation

Environmental groups pan Biden planned vehicle emissions rules rewrite

3 minute read

Morning traffic makes its way along a Los Angeles freeway in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) - Environmental groups on Tuesday criticized an expected Biden administration proposal to revise U.S. vehicle emissions that is set to be released as early as next week that they argue is not aggressive enough in cutting auto pollution.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are reviewing then President Donald Trump's March 2020 rollback of fuel economy standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts set in 2012 by then President Barack Obama's administration.

The proposed rules are expected to be similar in overall vehicle emissions reductions to California's 2019 deal with Ford Motor (F.N), Volkswagen , Honda Motor (7267.T) and others that aims to improve fuel economy 3.7% annually between 2022-2026, sources briefed on the matter said.

NHTSA and EPA declined to comment on the details of the planned proposal, which is expected to begin with revisions to the 2023 model year.

The Associated Press reported earlier the 2026 model year requirements could be higher than the Obama 5% annual hike.

Consumer Reports said its analysis has shown the California framework would only deliver about half of the consumer and climate benefits of the original Obama standards and many groups have called for tougher rules. Consumer Reports said it is "urging the Biden administration to put much stronger standards in place."

Dan Becker, Director, Safe Climate Transportation Campaign, said the anticipated Biden emissions proposal is not expected to go far enough.

"Biden is letting the car companies coast," Becker said. "Longer term, the president must issue rules that phase out sales of new gas-powered cars and SUVs and other light trucks by 2030."

General Motors Co (GM.N) last month said it backed the vehicle emissions reductions outlined in the California deal but asked the Biden administration to give automakers more flexibility to hit the carbon reduction target between now and 2026.

Biden has steadfastly refused to back any specific date to phase out the sale of gasoline powered passenger cars and trucks. California said last year it plans to end the sale of new gasoline powered vehicles by 2035.

"We need to eliminate the tailpipe pollution from new passenger vehicles by 2035 if we hope to curb climate change based on science and help ensure livable communities," said the Environmental Defense Fund.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Richard Pullin

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