The EPA Is Reportedly Proposing Its Strictest-Ever Limits on Auto Emissions

The regulation would ensure up to 67 percent of all new vehicles sold by 2032 are electric.

Evan Vucci/AP

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The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing a regulation that would ensure up to two-thirds of all new cars sold by 2032 will be fully electric, according to reporting from the New York Times and Washington Post. The proposal would go beyond President Joe Biden’s previously stated goal to have “50 percent of all new vehicle sales be electric by 2030.”

The new rule would be the most aggressive move so far from the Biden administration to limit auto pollution, which makes up a significant portion of overall US greenhouse gas emissions. To encourage automakers to sell more electric vehicles, the regulation would reportedly set a limit to the amount of emissions an auto company’s fleet of sold cars can produce every year. The requirement wouldn’t specifically mandate that auto companies sell electric vehicles, but that limit would make doing so necessary to comply. 

The proposed regulation, first reported by the New York Times, is expected to be formally announced by Wednesday. Given the impact on auto companies’ bottom lines, it would likely result in a battle between the administration, the auto industry, environmental groups, and consumer advocates over the new rules. The regulation would also go through public comment before taking effect and will almost certainly face legal challenges, meaning it could be months before the EPA officially sets the new rules.

The auto industry is likely to maintain that meeting the requirements of the proposal isn’t realistic. Last year, electric vehicle sales were up 65 percent from 2021, but they still only accounted for about 6 percent of all new vehicle sales. Getting EV sales up to the 67 percent in the reported EPA proposal would require, as the Times put it, a “quantum leap.”

The Biden administration has long seemed determined to make such a dramatic jump. In March, the administration announced commitments to expand the federal fleet of electric vehicles and the availability of charging stations. That plan includes placing 500,000 chargers across the nation’s highways and interstates. Earlier this year, the Inflation Reduction Act included an expansion of tax credits for the purchase of new or used electric vehicles. The administration’s actions on EV expansion are part of a larger goal to “put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050,” according to the White House. 

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