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Biden Administration Moves to Accelerate Electric Vehicles

By Jeffrey Clarke, Director of Regulatory Affairs, NGVAmerica

On August 5th , President Biden issued an executive order calling for 50 percent of new vehicle sales to be
zero emission vehicles by the year 2030. On the same day, the Administration announced that the U.S.
EPA would be moving quickly to impose more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-
duty passenger cars and trucks. To increase the likelihood of achieving the ambitious target for zero
emission vehicles, the Administration has urged Congress to provide billions in funding for electric
vehicles. The bipartisan infrastructure package approved by the Senate on August 10 th for example sets
aside $5 billion for electric charging and include billions more in funding for electric battery
development. Other incentives for electric vehicles are likely to be part of the $3.5 trillion budget
package now under discussion. More details available HERE.

On August 6th , the U.S. EPA released a notice of proposed rule making that would revise the greenhouse
gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles for Model Year 2023 and later. The much-anticipated
action essentially proposes to restore emission standards back to levels that are close to what was
previously adopted by the Obama Administration in 2012 but amended by the Trump Administration.
EPA also has indicated that a future rule making likely will look to adopt even more stringent standards
for Model Year 2027 and beyond. EPA’s notice anticipates that market penetration for electric vehicles
will be at about 8 percent in 2026. Thus, achieving the 50 percent target proposed by President Biden
will require much more significant tightening of the standards in the future and/or significant incentives.
To facilitate greater uptake of electric vehicles and to ease the difficulty of meeting the new, more
demanding standards, EPA’s proposal would restore generous incentives for electric vehicles and other
advanced technology vehicles and increase flexibility within the credit banking and trading program.
EPA unfortunately has not proposed extending additional incentives for natural gas vehicles and, in fact,
has proposed ending the sales multiplier credits recently put in place for NGVs under the Trump
Administration. The action will have little immediate impact as no original equipment manufacturers in
the U.S. offer light-duty NGVs. But the action is nevertheless disappointing because it sends the wrong
message on the benefit of NGVs and demonstrates that EPA does not believe that renewable natural gas
can have a positive impact on the light-duty market segment. Somewhat perplexingly, the proposal
states that NGVs are not near-zero vehicles yet the 280 plus page proposal fails to exactly define what
“near-zero” is.

NGVAmerica has urged EPA to provide greenhouse gas emission credits for NGVs based on the
increasing use of renewable natural gas which in 2020 accounted for 53 percent of all natural gas used
in on-road transportation. EPA is aware of the environmental benefits of renewable natural gas, but it
has resisted including credits for fuels based on upstream emission reductions. The fact that EPA is
unwilling to look at the well-to-wheel benefits of different fuels and technologies and reward them with
regulatory credits puts natural gas and other low-carbon fuels at a significant disadvantage to electric

EPA will hold a virtual hearing on August 25th (and August 26th if necessary) to receive input on the
proposed rule making. Written comments must be submitted by September 27th . NGVAmerica will
provide a statement for the hearing and also plans to file written comments. The EPA Proposal is
available HERE.