The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new set of pollution regulations that could increase electric vehicle (EV) sales and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the planned rules, EVs could account for 67% of new US passenger car sales by 2032, with further benefits for larger vehicles. Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the US, so achieving this would be a major feat towards reducing global emissions. They have been proposed in draft form, with a public comment period to follow. The rules apply to new passenger vehicles sold from 2027 to 2032 in the US.
The proposals are arriving at a time when the US economy is already primed for innovation and change, thanks to an infrastructure bill passed in 2021 and a spending bill called the Inflation Reduction Act, passed this year. These acts are helping to fund charging infrastructure and tax credits for consumers, as well as for automakers or battery manufacturers upgrading or building new facilities. In addition, policies that support domestic manufacturing and secure supply chains for raw materials, such as lithium and cobalt, are encouraging EV production in the US.
Lithium and cobalt are vital for creating modern batteries, with which EVs are powered; to encourage domestic manufacturing and secure supply chains, tax credits may be available only to businesses making and sourcing these materials from free-trade partners such as Chile, Canada, and Mexico. Furthermore, the EPA estimates the new regulations will reduce carbon emissions by ten billion tonnes over the next three decades, more than doubling the US’ emissions last year and equating to more than a quarter of the global total.
Despite the proposed legislation following procedures that the EPA has been using for years to control pollutants, past overturnings of environmental rules underlines the potential for it to face legal challenges. However, with the regulations more focused on setting pollution limits for car manufacturers than dictating technological change, and with those regulations being so significant, most expect that the standards will be legally durable over the long term.