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🚨 Situational awareness: Federal officials are weighing controversial cuts to water allotments from the Colorado River as the west grapples with drought and climate change. Go deeper

🎶 This week in 1989, Soul II Soul released their debut album, which provides today's stellar intro tune ...

1 big thing: Making sense of Biden's big EV rules

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House has adopted a nuanced posture with its climate rules for vehicles: they ride the currents of existing market trends while forcing the industry to go further, Ben writes.

Driving the news: The Environmental Protection Agency just unveiled sweeping draft regulations aimed at accelerating growth of electric vehicles to fight climate change.

How it works: The rules would set CO2 limits for cars, SUVs and pickups for model years 2027-2032, and heavy-duty vehicles for the same period.

  • They don't mandate specific tech, but instead set declining limits on fleet-wide grams of CO2 per mile.
  • However, they're strict enough to effectively require far more EVs, in addition to better efficiency of gas-powered models.

By the numbers: The EPA estimates its main proposal (it also offers some alternatives) would mean EVs rising to 60% of light-duty sales — sedans, SUVs, pickups and vans — by 2030, and 67% in 2032. That's up from roughly 10% today.

Electric models would also be 50% of new vocational vehicles sales (such as buses and garbage trucks) in 2032, 35% of new short-haul freight trucks, 25% of long-haul trucks by then, a summary notes.

The big picture: The rules would cumulatively prevent roughly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions from 2027-2055, officials said, noting that's around twice the country's annual emissions today.

  • The plan would reduce oil imports by 20 billion barrels over those three decades and save consumers an average of $12,000 over a vehicle's lifetime, the White House said.

Quick take: Officials called the rules a major step — but also one that the administration and the private sector have done a lot to make feasible.

  • The rule text and Biden officials note the infrastructure law's funding for EV charging deployment, and the climate law's consumer EV subsidies.
  • They also note that automakers have already been setting their own targets for significant EV growth, such as GM and Ford pledging 50% by 2030 for light-duty models.
  • "Look at what the automakers themselves have laid out as their trajectories," Ali Zaidi, a top White House aide, told reporters.

Of note: The White House called the rules geopolitically important, saying the U.S. can "seize this moment" to lead the "global race to a clean transportation future" — or instead "let competitors like China out-compete us."

What they're saying: Automakers appear wary, with auto giant Stellantis saying in a statement that "we are surprised that none of the alternatives align with the President’s previously announced target of 50% EVs by 2030."

  • John Bozzella, head of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said the earlier White House target of 50% EV sales in 2030 was "always a stretch goal."

The bottom line: Bozzella's statement rhetorically asks if the new rule is feasible and answers his own question with: "it depends." He cited factors like supply chains and availability of key minerals.

2. Charted: Why transportation emissions matter

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, by major sector
Data: Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

Transportation overtook electric power as the country's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions roughly a half-decade ago.

3. 🧮 Intriguing numbers: Oil and electricity

🛢️ 2.5% — The U.S. Energy Information Administration's increase in its forecast 2023 Brent crude oil prices following the OPEC+ decision to cut production, Ben writes.

  • EIA's latest monthly report now sees Brent spot prices averaging $85 per barrel. The agency slightly boosted its U.S. production growth outlook.

12% — the share of global electricity production from wind and solar power last year, a new record, per the climate think tank Ember.

  • Its new report says carbon emissions from the global power sector may have peaked last year.

4. Permitting reform has "infrastructure week" vibes

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Revamping the federal permitting system to speed approvals of energy projects is two things at once: a popular idea that may also face insurmountable hurdles, Axios Pro Energy Policy's Nick Sobczyk and Ben write.

The big picture: That political morass could make permitting the new "infrastructure week."

  • The term became a Trump-era joke about elusive consensus despite broad support for rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure.
  • What's putting a broad permitting overhaul in jeopardy: Sharp disagreements over what projects should be sped up under the banner of "permitting reform."

State of play: Many Democrats and low-carbon energy industries hope to lower barriers to building transmission, wind and solar, and other climate-friendly projects.

  • But Republicans and K Street players want a permitting overhaul that would also benefit natural gas pipelines and other fossil-fuel infrastructure.
  • Capitol Hill progressives see that as a bitter pill to swallow, and it's not clear enough buy-in exists for aiding traditional and "clean" projects alike.

Yes, but: Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, sees reasons for optimism.

“There's a growing recognition that if we're going to meet the promise of the Inflation Reduction Act, you have to have permitting reform in place as well."

Subscribe to Axios Pro Energy Policy to read the full story

5. CO2 removal group tops $1B in purchase commitments

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Breaking Wednesday: Frontier, a major corporate coalition working to expand the young market for carbon removal services, is getting bigger, Ben writes.

Driving the news: Frontier announced that H&M Group, JPMorgan Chase, Autodesk and Workday have joined.

Their joint $100 million commitment pushes Frontier's total pledged removal buys over $1 billion over the next eight years.

Catch up fast: The coalition launched a year ago with founding members including Meta, Alphabet and Stripe.

Since then, it has struck deals worth $5.6 million with startups using a suite of technologies.

Why it matters: Carbon removal could become an important tool against global warming — if various methods like direct air capture and speeding CO2 uptake in rock formations can scale.

What they're saying: Hannah Bebbington, Frontier's strategy head, said the group's expansion shows removal is becoming embedded in corporate plans well beyond large tech companies.

  • "It is a meaningful part of any credible net-zero strategy," she tells me.
  • In a separate statement, she said: "The more company executives put their weight behind this nascent field, the better the chances of getting to gigaton scale by 2050."

👀 Speaking of carbon removal, Apple yesterday said it's expanding its Restore Fund that launched in 2021.

Editor's note: Autodesk is one of several partners in Frontier's coalition.

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🙏 Thanks to Lisa Hornung and Javier E. David for edits to today's edition.