Biden needs to set strong clean car standards

(ACEEE blog, 23 Mar 2021) This week, at the annual “two sessions” political gathering in Beijing, the Chinese government approved a key policy document that will heavily influence the nation’s economic development – and climate policies – over the next decade and beyond.

The Biden administration can reclaim lost momentum on reducing automotive greenhouse gas emissions by setting clean car standards that catch up to those set by President Obama and ensuring the program achieves real-world benefits. These standards should be substantially stronger than those agreed to in a deal between California and some manufacturers during the last administration, which are not stringent enough.

The president got off to a quick start, issuing an executive order on his first day in office directing regulators to consider undoing both the Trump administration’s fuel economy and emissions standards rollback and its rule blocking California from setting its own standards. Few doubt that the Biden administration will fully restore California’s authority and the ability for other states to again adopt its standards.

Now eyes are on what the Biden administration will do to rescue the federal vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards the Trump administration rolled back in March 2020. Some observers suggest that an agreement California reached with four automakers in 2019, adopted through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), could be the basis for any new federal vehicle standards through model year 2026.

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ACEEE blog, 23 Mar 2021: Biden needs to set strong clean car standards