Biden administration considers slowing key emissions rules – a potential blow to EV growth

The Biden administration is considering relaxing stringent vehicle emissions rules it proposed last year, giving automakers more time to meet requirements that would make them sell more electric vehicles, according to two sources familiar with the plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s vehicle emissions rule is a key plank of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda. Biden has made the transition to EVs a signature issue of his presidency, stressing the economic impacts in addition to the boost for the climate.

Instead of a previously proposed rule that would rapidly increase the number of EVs sold to meet strict emissions requirements, the EPA is considering delaying these requirements until after 2030, the two people said. The EPA rule is still not finalized and is expected to be released in the spring.

However, one source familiar with the plan said the EPA emissions rule will ultimately reduce nearly as much emissions as the original proposal – it will do it gradually and build in more flexibility for automakers in the beginning.

When they unveiled their proposed vehicle emissions rule last April, EPA officials said they were considering several different emissions proposals, which could result in anywhere from a 64% to 69% electric vehicle adoption rate by early next decade, starting with model year 2027 vehicles.

The New York Times first reported EPA was considering the change. An EPA spokesperson did not immediately return CNN’s request for comment.

A top White House climate official stressed Biden’s commitment to the transition to electric vehicles.

“We are harnessing the power of smart investments and standards to ensure U.S. workers will lead, not follow, the global auto sector,” White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said in a statement. “President Biden’s been consistent in moving us forward, accelerating U.S. leadership on this critical technology for our economy and environment.”

But some advocates blasted the move as a concession to automakers, saying it reflects the reality that US legacy automakers are lagging far behind Tesla and Chinese EV companies like BYD.

Automakers are “pretty much opposed to the rules,” Dan Becker, director of the safe climate transport campaign at the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, told CNN in an interview. “They had fallen all over themselves to make EVs, they’re now trying to run the other way as fast as they can. They’re trying to wring the last profits they can out of gas guzzling vehicles.”

The United Auto Workers union – a key group that recently endorsed Biden for president in 2024 – has long been sounding the alarm about what a shift to EVs means for their workers. And former President Donald Trump has railed against EVs in his speeches as he seeks the Republican nomination for president.

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