Victory for Cleaner Cars: The Most Significant Climate Protections in U.S. History

We just secured a victory that will protect our health and climate for generations.

President Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just finalized federal standards to strengthen tailpipe emissions requirements for passenger cars and trucks. These standards will encourage manufacturers to produce cleaner passenger cars and light- and medium-duty trucks.

This landmark decision setting long-term emissions standards is one of the most significant actions President Biden can take to clean up our air and protect our climate - and it happened because thousands of advocates spoke out on the significance that cleaning up vehicle pollution would have on their livelihoods and the well-being of their communities. 


Fortune Headline EPA Rule

Transportation is the largest source of climate-disrupting emissions in the U.S. Every day, millions of Americans grapple with the impacts of health-threatening pollution, volatile gas prices, and the climate crisis - all fueled by tailpipe emissions spewing from gas-powered cars.  

The new vehicle pollution standards will have an enormous positive impact on public health, dramatically reducing the air pollution that causes increased risk of asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, and thousands of premature deaths each year. It's also an important victory for communities of color, who are often most vulnerable to traffic pollution from highways and highly-trafficked corridors due to the legacy of redlining.

As the New York Times reported, we’re seeing more investments in electric vehicles (EVs), which will help push manufacturers to make more affordable EVs. The Biden Administration’s new emission requirements, coupled with the Inflation Reduction Act incentives, will help make that vision a reality faster. These historic standards will protect our families and climate for generations to come. 

The Sierra Club community sent tens of thousands of comments to the EPA demanding a strong final rule - and they listened. This new rule calls for a 56 percent reduction in fleetwide average carbon emissions by 2032, which is the strictest limit ever on pollution from cars and light trucks.

Despite lobbying from automakers and Big Oil on the proposed standards, the rule the EPA finalized will help get cleaner vehicles on the road. The automakers’ trade group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI), tried to use its influence in Washington to obstruct much-needed progress to help us achieve our clean transportation goals. 

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers spent $7 million on a deceptive advertising using Big Oil’s fear-mongering claim: the falsehood about a federal “ban” on gas-powered vehicles. These federal standards will not result in a ban on new gas cars.

Why is Big Oil so scared of Biden's new clean car plan? Because it poses an existential threat to their business. 

Here's a piece in The Hill by me and @katherinejulia about the industry's latest propaganda campaign and why it's a bunch of lies.

— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) March 20, 2024

In the end, the AAI supported the rule, and the Sierra Club looks forward to holding them accountable to that stance. We will also continue our advocacy on automakers in their electric vehicle strategies and cleaning up their supply chains – particularly on automakers like Toyota who are outright lying about the vehicles they sell by calling combustion vehicles “electrified” in their marketing materials.

The transformation of the auto sector represents a generational opportunity to build our economy so that it works for everyone while addressing a major source of pollution in our country. Last year, the United Auto Workers – representing workers at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis – reached historic contract agreements with all three automakers. The UAW is supportive of the Biden Administration’s new car pollution standards.

The shift to EVs must be a just transition that brings good union jobs to communities across the country. 

Today we’re celebrating new standards that we achieved through advocacy from the health, environmental, faith, and labor communities and the support of Sierra Club members. Thank you for your commitment to the Clean Transportation for All campaign.

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