EPA’s Clean Cars Plan Can Deliver Large Health & Climate Gains

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Originally published by NRDC.
By Luke TonachelVijay Limaye 

Starting today, we will speak at a two-day public hearing to urge EPA to follow through on its plan to issue strong standards for light-duty vehicles — plans that protect our climate and health.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to tighten carbon pollution requirements for passenger cars (including SUVs, minivans, and light pickup trucks) navigating America’s roads, starting in 2023. It will call for substantial cuts in climate pollution while also delivering near-term health benefits and cost savings for people across the country.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released earlier this month makes it clear — once again — that now is the time to act boldly to address the worsening climate crisis. People in America and around the globe are experiencing the negative impacts of climate change today, and those costly hazards are growing in severity. Dangerous heat waves, wildfires, and flooding are becoming more frequent and intense as the planet warms. Strong, immediate action to cut carbon pollution is needed now to minimize these costly impacts in the future and deliver cleaner air across the country.

As NRDC Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group Director Luke Tonachel will point out in his testimony at the public hearing, the previous plan that EPA finalized in 2012 during the Obama administration was justified and provided much-needed reductions in carbon pollution. Despite the dramatic weakening of standards under former president Trump, EPA should be working to at least restore the carbon reductions laid out under the 2012 rule for model years 2021 through 2025. EPA can do this by finalizing the stronger set of standards that was also detailed in the 2012 plan, under “Alternative 2” standards.

According to EPA’s own analysis, the stronger alternative to EPA’s proposal would get the United States closer to recapturing the much-needed emissions reductions that had been expected under the original plan nearly a decade ago. Specifically, a stronger plan would deliver between $8 billion and $16 billion more net benefits than the proposal over the lifetimes of model-year 2023–26 vehicles. With this bolder action, the United States would achieve more emissions reductions and consumers would save more money at the pump than the current proposal.

The stronger standards would also help set up the nation for widespread adoption of zero-emission electric vehicles.

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