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US may ease deadline for auto emissions set for 2030

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-21 10:32

Photo taken on Oct 28, 2021 shows the White House in Washington, DC, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

The United States may be decelerating its emissions reduction timetable for cars and trucks in what is being described as an attempt to address concerns by the auto industry and workers in a presidential election year.

"In a concession to automakers and labor unions, the Biden administration intends to relax elements of one of its most ambitious strategies to combat climate change, limits on tailpipe emissions that are designed to get Americans to switch from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles, according to three people familiar with the plan," The New York Times reported on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden's administration is set to ease proposed yearly requirements through 2030 of its plan to cut emissions and boost electric vehicle sales, two sources told Reuters on Sunday.

The reported easing of the rules comes in a presidential election year, as Biden attempts to navigate demands for climate action with the economic concerns of the auto industry and workers.

Former US president Donald Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, criticized United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain over the endorsement on Truth Social, his social media site.

In April 2023, the EPA proposed requiring a 56 percent cut in new vehicle emissions by 2032. Under the initial EPA proposal covering 2027-2032, automakers were expected to aim for EVs to comprise 60 percent of their new vehicle production by 2030 and 67 percent by 2032.

The EPA's revised regulation is expected to be made public as soon as next month.

White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi, who has held talks with automakers on tailpipe rules, said in a statement on Sunday that the US is "harnessing the power of smart investments and standards to ensure US workers will lead, not follow, the global auto sector".

Climate concerns

EVs accounted for about 8 percent of US auto sales in 2023. Tesla by far leads in US sales of electric vehicles, which account for only 4 percent of Ford's sales and 3 percent of General Motors', The Washington Post reported.

Some climate activists said the EPA's easing of the rules shows that longtime US automakers are not competing with Tesla and Chinese EV companies like BYD, CNN reported.

Automakers are "pretty much opposed to the rules", Dan Becker, director of the safe climate transport campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity, told CNN in an interview.

"They had fallen all over themselves to make EVs, they're now trying to run the other way as fast as they can," he said. "They're trying to wring the last profits they can out of gas-guzzling vehicles."

Agencies contributed to this story.

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