May 20, 2024

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a groundbreaking regulation on pollution that could trigger an electric vehicle revolution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the regulations, electric vehicles will be able to be responsible for a staggering 67% of all new US passenger-car sales in 2032. There could be further gains for larger vehicles, which is an impressive achievement for a nation where transportation is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“These actions will accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean-vehicle future, tackle the climate crisis and improve our air quality for communities across the country,” EPA administrator Michael Regan said in a press event.

The regulations in draft form and awaiting public comment will apply to vehicles sold between 2027 to 2032. They could reduce average emissions from new cars by a significant amount when compared to the current standard. But would the plan work, and what would the impact be on the climate?

CAN THE UNITED STATES MAKE ENOUGH ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN TIME?

The United States is home to one of the largest automobile fleets around the globe, so the question is whether it’s feasible to increase the number of electric vehicles in several years. The challenges include establishing charging infrastructure, expanding electric car production capacity, and getting people to change their lifestyles.

But, the regulations are being implemented in an industry that is already geared for change and innovation, according to Margo Oge, who was the one to lead the formulation of similar regulations for cars in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality under the former President Barack Obama.

In particular, the bill for infrastructure passed through Congress in 2021 as well as an enormous spending bill referred to by the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in 2022, which funnel federal funds to charging infrastructure as well as taxes credits to consumers, as well as for car manufacturers or batteries that are upgraded or create new facilities.

Even if the EPA’s rules are not in place, electric vehicles could make up more than 50 percent of all new US vehicles in 2030 in a study published conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation, which is a non-profit research organization located in Washington, DC, and the consulting firm Energy Innovation Policy and Technology located in San Francisco, California. The EPA rules will help solve the lingering questions regarding how federal incentives will be implemented in the Inflation Reduction Act, says Robbie Orvis, a senior director at Energy Innovation: “It cements current trends into place, and creates a much stronger investment climate.”

WHAT ABOUT SECURING RAW MATERIALS?

Cobalt and lithium are essential to make modern batteries, and the Biden administration is urging companies to purchase these products from countries with Free Trade Agreements in place with the US. Biden administration also encouraged manufacturing within the country to strengthen supply chains and reduce dependency on China. Certain tax credits are available only if vehicles and batteries are manufactured in the United States, or the minerals used in manufacturing are from free-trade partners like Chile, Australia, Canada, or Mexico. There are few apparent show-stoppers about the availability of vital minerals used in electric-car batteries, according to energy consulting firm BloombergNEF.

“The investments are there, and these nations can theoretically provide sufficient supplies,” says Evelina Stoikou, an energy storage expert at BloombergNEF in New York City. However, she warns that the demand from Europe and other regions will increase, which is why the United States must strengthen its international relationships.

WHAT IMPACT WOULD THE RULES HAVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE?

The preliminary estimate by the EPA is that the new regulations will decrease carbon emissions by approximately 10 billion tonnes over the following three decades. This is nearly double the United States’ emissions last year and more than one-quarter of the world’s total. “The administration is going to make history if indeed, at the end of the day, they finalized these new standards,” Oge says. Oge. “I’m really hopeful.”

 

COULD THE COURTS CHALLENGE THE RULES?

US courts have previously struck down environmental regulations, and courts will likely challenge the proposed rules. One thing that is to their advantage is that they adhere to the EPA regulations that have been used for decades to manage pollutants from cars and other sources. Instead of dictating technological changes, the agency has set standards for the car industry’s pollution. The limits can be met by using current technologies, and it is up to the auto industry to determine how to meet the standards, according to Chester France, a former EPA official who is currently a consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group with its headquarters within New York City. “I would fully expect those standards to be legally durable.”

In the pilot program with Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Ford revealed they are looking at ways to encourage charging during off-peak times.

BMW has been running several pilot programs in partnership with PG&E since 2015, focusing on incentives for charging off-peak hours and “exploration of V2G [vehicle-to-grid] possibilities,” Katrina St. Jean, an official BMW spokesperson, stated via email.

“The BMW Group believes that vehicles can play a larger role in supporting the grid as new vehicle technologies are developed,” she said.

 

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