Final EPA Vehicle Emissions Standards Ignite Debate Among Advocates

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced new vehicle pollution standards that aim to have a lot more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads by 2032.

The new rule, recently finalized by the Biden Administration, requires the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States be all-electric or hybrids by 2032. The final ruling sets historic emissions targets for cars, trucks and SUVs model year 2027 to 2032, and beyond. 

“I’m pleased to announce the strongest vehicle pollution technology standard ever finalized in United States history,” said EPA Michael Regan when announcing the final rule in March. 

The standards are expected to eliminate over 7 billion tons of carbon emissions through 2055. 

“Which is basically the equivalent of eliminating all tailpipe pollution from all vehicles for four years,” said Flora Cardoni, a field direct for PennEnvironment. “Right now in the United States, the transportation sector is the number one source of greenhouse gas pollution in the country. This rule will go a really long way into cutting that pollution down,” Cardoni added. 

Environmental advocates, like Cardoni, call it a win for a clean energy future and for public health. 

“The climate crisis is the most urgent threat that we’re facing. The sooner that we reduce climate emissions, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to maintain a livable climate for future generations,” said Cardoni. 

Organizations and stakeholders opposed to the standards say it will come at the cost of American jobs. Cardoni disagrees and says the industry is transitioning to a clean future. 

“We’re actually going to see more investment in manufacturing these more efficient cars in the United States with more options across manufacturers, which is why the UAW has come out in support of this rule. The future of cars is clean,” said Cardoni. 

Although clean air and environmental advocates are praising the new rule, others say the administration is overstepping and not listening to the will of the people. 

“Once again, it is subverting the power of the people- Congress- and doing it through the rulemaking process, which is all the more egregious,” said Ashley Klingensmith, the state director for the grassroots organization, Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania (AFP-PA). 

Klingensmith calls the final rule an out of touch mandate that would “ban new gas, diesel and hybrid vehicles.” 

“It is going to force many Pennsylvanians and Americans to buy an electric car, even though only 9% are seriously considering buying one on their own. And three out of four Americans have said they oppose any regulation that would ban new gas, diesel and hybrid vehicles,” she added. 

Klingensmith and AFP-PA travel the state, going door-to-door discussing policies and economic challenges. She says Pennsylvanians are not asking for strict vehicle emissions standards. 

“We are not ever hearing a cry for something of this nature. It shows just how very out of step DC is with Main Street and folks that simply cannot get ahead,” said Klingensmith. “When we’re talking to them about these things, Pennsylvanians from Scranton to Pittsburgh and Erie to Philly, what we are not hearing is a demand for the federal government to tell us what we’re allowed to buy and what businesses are allowed to produce,” she added. 

According to Kelly Blue Book, 7.6% of vehicles sold last year were EVs. That’s up from nearly 6% in 2022, but far from the more than 50% target under the new regulation. 

Americans for Prosperity and several Republicans in Congress are pushing for Congressional Review Act (CRA) legislation aimed at blocking the final standards.