New White House plans this morning to cut auto emissions say a lot about climate policy circa 2021 — doing consequential things demands a layered approach, Ben writes.
Catch up fast: The White House is unveiling targets, draft mandates and handshake deals with automakers aimed at deeply cutting CO2 and vastly expanding electric car sales.
We've got plenty on the rollout here, but the highlights are...
- Draft rules to increase mileage and cut carbon from cars, pickups and SUVs through the model year 2026.
- Kicking off a process for regulations beyond the mid-2020s for those light-duty models but also medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
- An aspirational 2030 target of achieving 50% of U.S. car sales from zero-emissions vehicles — EVs, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell models.
Why it matters: This morning's rollout shows how big problems — transportation is the largest U.S. CO2 source! — require a multipronged approach.
That's always been true, but it's especially important now. That's because big, economy-wide ideas batted around for years — like cap-and-trade or carbon taxes — are dead for the foreseeable future.
The transportation effort mixes regulations, pressure on the industry and new investments via Congress.
Where it stands: On Capitol Hill, the White House has secured several billion dollars for EV charging stations in the bipartisan infrastructure plan.
- But administration officials and Democrats hope to move on the order of $100 billion in new EV consumer incentives through the budget reconciliation process on a party-line vote.
- One immediate sign of how much Congress matters: Big automakers' pledges this morning to have EVs make up 40%-50% of U.S. sales by 2030 included warnings that new federal purchase incentives are needed to get there.
The big picture: Some version of this it-takes-a-policy-village story applies to the White House climate approach to all the big industrial sectors.
For instance, plans for the electricity sector include new transmission and grid investments via Congress; an effort to push a "clean energy standard" through the budget reconciliation process, too; and potential new EPA regulations.
What's next: Biden will sign the executive order and promote the plans at a White House event this afternoon with officials from car companies and the United Autoworkers.
However, some environmentalists are dissatisfied with the efforts.
"[F]ederal agencies must craft enforceable fuel economy and tailpipe pollution standards that accurately reflect the urgency of the moment, and drive toward 100% EV sales by 2030," the group Evergreen Action said.