EPA announces strictest fuel efficiency standards ever, reversing Trump-era rollback

By 2026, automaker fleets will be required to average 55 miles per gallon.

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On Monday, the Biden administration finalized new fuel efficiency standards designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions put out by passenger vehicles. By 2026, the Environmental Protection Agency will require that automaker fleets travel an average of about 55 miles per gallon, up from the 37 miles per gallon standard they’re held to as of this year.

The agency estimates the policy will save American drivers between $210 billion and $420 billion through 2050 on fuel costs. Over the life of a model year 2026 vehicle, that will translate to about $1,080 in individual consumer savings after factoring in the higher initial cost of a more efficient vehicle. The EPA estimates the policy will also prevent the release of about 3.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide over the same time frame.

“We followed the science, we listened to stakeholders, and we are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet – and save families money at the same time,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

The new standards effectively mirror those put forward by the Obama administration in 2012. Had former President Trump not weakened those in 2018, they would have required automakers to make vehicles that could travel about 51 miles per gallon by 2025.

Jeff Alson, a former EPA senior engineer, told The New York Times, the new standards recapture the emissions cuts carved out by the Trump administration. “That’s good, but it’s not going to get us anywhere near the level we’ve got to get to reduce vehicle emissions enough to protect the planet,” he said.

We've reached out to Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Stellantis for comment on today's rulemaking.

The new standards mark the most significant climate action taken to date by President Biden. As of 2019, the transportation sector has been the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. However, the announcement comes just one day after Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he would not support the Democratic party’s Build Back Better plan. Among other items, the approximately $2 trillion plan includes a proposal for up to $12,500 in individual tax subsidies for Americans who buy an EV as their next car.