The U.S. had some of the most ambitious fuel economy targets in the world under rules implemented by the Obama administration, which the Trump administration then attempted to gut. Well, there’s a new president in town, you may have heard, and a whole lot of lawmakers are telling him to restore Obama’s rules and possibly impose a ban on petrol-burning cars, too.
Under the Obama rules, average fuel economy would be 54.5 mpg by 2025, or an increase of as much as 5 percent per year, much more than the 1.5 percent annual increase the Trump administration tried to impose. The Obama plan was ambitious, in other words, but nothing that automakers couldn’t achieve — indeed, most of them signed off on it.
Fast forward to 2021 and we have a president who understands that the world is getting warmer, and we need to do something about it. Lots of people in Congress agree. But still, a little prodding never hurt, which is why more than 80 members of Congress sent letters to Biden on Wednesday urging him to restore the Obama-era fuel economy standards “at a minimum.”
The effort was led by Senator Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Rep. Doris Matsui, a Democrat from Northern California.
Markey’s letter in part, emphasis mine:
We therefore ask you to direct the EPA and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to establish vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards that, at a minimum, match the Obama-Biden administration’s 5 percent annual improvement rate through 2025, and we urge you to pursue a more ambitious long-term standard that will ensure both emissions reductions from internal combustion engines and the widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles. We also urge you to set a date by which new sales of fossil fuel vehicles will end entirely...
This is for now just a bunch of letters from a bunch of members of Congress and not policy or anything. But the more the idea that cars that produce tailpipe emissions should be banned is pushed, the closer it comes to actually happening. And if you think that the automakers just aren’t ready to go all in on EVs, I invite you to look at what’s happening in Europe, where stricter emissions regulations have kicked in, and cheap electric cars are starting to come out of the woodwork.