08/12/2021 - Clean Car Rules

EPA’s Clean Cars Standards: Solid First Steps Toward Electrification

by Carrie Jenks, Hana Vizcarra

By Carrie Jenks and Hana Vizcarra

On August 5, 2021, EPA released its proposed revisions to the light-duty vehicles GHG emissions standards—a significant step on the path toward electrification and meaningful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. Transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in the US. The Trump-era SAFE Vehicles Rule dramatically weakened GHG emissions standards for vehicles. EPA’s proposed rule for model years 2023-2026 seeks to make up for lost gains with emissions reductions beyond those the Obama-era standards would have achieved. Paired with NHTSA’s new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards (expected soon), it also aims to chart a path to more substantial adoption of electric vehicles. EPA’s proposal highlights significant work yet to come from the agency as it develops its final rule and numerous areas in which the agency seeks technical comments during the public comment period that runs through September 27, 2021. It also previews what will come next as it starts to work on even more stringent standards for model years 2027 and beyond.

In this piece, we summarize the most significant changes from the Trump-era standards, discuss how EPA is designing it to withstand legal challenges, and how this rule fits into the Biden administration’s broader policy goals. Read our analysis here.


Visit our Biden-Harris Climate & Environmental Agenda Tracker to learn more about the current administration’s actions to implement new policy goals, rebuild agency capacity, and address the deregulatory legacy of the Trump administration.