Washington, D.C. – The Biden Administration will soon propose a rulemaking for revised vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards, replacing the standards enacted by the Trump Administration. The standards, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), are expected to cover model years 2023–2026. ZETA urges these agencies to advance ambitious vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards, which are needed to confront the escalating climate crisis, reduce harmful air pollution, and support the rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles.
The Trump Administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) standards – which replaced the Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards – dramatically lowered previously agreed-to fuel efficiency requirements for automakers and unnecessarily paved the way for significantly increased U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: While the Obama-era standards required automakers to improve vehicle fuel efficiency by 5% annually for model years 2020–2025, the weaker SAFE I and II standards required automakers to improve vehicle fuel efficiency by only 1.5% annually for model years 2021–2026. The Trump Administration also removed California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set more stringent standards that can be adopted by other states.
The transportation sector is the largest domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the combined vehicle emissions and fuel economy program is the single largest federal program to reduce climate-warming pollution. Ambitious performance standards will help to rapidly decarbonize our transportation system and help achieve our obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement. They will also significantly improve public health, boost the economy, and create millions of good-paying jobs. After all, these standards are a proven mechanism for incentivizing automakers to accelerate the production and deployment of EVs by providing them with more flexibility in their compliance strategies – without imposing additional costs on taxpayers. Strengthening these standards is essential to achieving ZETA’s goals of achieving 100% EV sales by 2030 and is critical to achieving the Biden Administration’s 2050 net-zero carbon emissions goal.
ZETA strongly supports the Biden Administration’s decision to replace the SAFE standards and to restore California’s and other states’ authority under the Clean Air Act. By leveraging EPA’s and NHTSA’s authority to advance the most stringent standards possible, the United States will be positioned to realize tremendous benefits through job growth, increased economic competitiveness, and substantial improvements to environmental quality and public health. ZETA looks forward to working closely with EPA and NHTSA to strengthen the current rulemaking and to further strengthen and modernize the standards after 2026.
The Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) is a federal coalition focused on advocating for 100% EV sales by 2030. ZETA is committed to enacting policies that drive EV adoption, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, secure American global EV manufacturing dominance, drastically improve public health, and significantly reduce carbon pollution.