This morning, the Biden Administration announced the finalization of long-awaited new emissions rules—and they're tough, but not as strict as the EPA initially proposed.

The new rules require roughly 50 percent cuts to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for passenger cars and trucks by 2032. There are also drastic cuts for fine particulates that cause smog. This is less drastic than the EPA's initial proposal last year, which would have required faster initial changes by automakers in 2027 and cuts of up to 67 percent to CO2 emissions by 2032.

Despite the slight relaxation in the final rule, it will undoubtedly change what dealerships sell in the coming decades. The EPA wanted two-thirds of new car sales to be electric by 2032 in its initial proposal, which automakers and unions alike decried as impossible. The main automaker industry group called the initial plans "neither reasonable nor achievable" and encouraged the Biden Administration to soften the requirements significantly. The final proposal revealed today largely meets their requests, which aim closer toward Biden's original goals of 50 percent plug-in and electric vehicle sales by 2030. 

Officially, the new rules are implementation-agnostic, and automakers can still sell any drivetrains they want as long as they meet the emissions targets. Meeting the new emissions targets will almost certainly require hybrid and EV sales to surpass the current proportion of EV new car sales at 7.6 percent. The EPA projects a range somewhere from 30 to 56 percent of new cars as EVs by 2032 with the final rule, depending on how automakers decide to implement it.

While the final rules have pleased automakers, it leaves Biden's political opponents dissatisfied. Former President and current presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly and harshly criticized Biden for his environmental and EV policy. Oil companies have also expressed dissatisfaction with the EPA's plans, calling them a de facto ban on gas cars, and the state of Texas is currently suing the EPA, challenging its authority to regulate auto emissions at all.

The president also face challenges from the left, as nearly a hundred US lawmakers signed a statement encouraging Biden to finalize the tougher rules, rather than softening them for the sake of the auto industry.

The rules have been made stricter in the past (during the Obama administration) only to be reverted (by the Trump administration) and then re-instated (by the Biden administration). The outcome of the 2024 presidential election therefore will likely dictate whether the new rule will even last long enough to be implemented.

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