Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 5, 2021


Dan Becker, (202) 494-5577,

Biden Yields to Automakers, Issues Weak Emissions Standards

New Standards Riddled With Loopholes, Fall Short of Climate Demands

WASHINGTON— The Biden administration is proposing new tailpipe emissions standards today that are weaker than what automakers agreed to with the Obama administration nearly a decade ago.

Today’s proposed rules were supposed to deliver on President Biden’s climate pledges by reining in the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, carmakers successfully lobbied for loopholes that will allow them to keep making polluting cars, SUVs and trucks, escaping pollution controls through lavish credits for electric vehicles and other technologies.

“These loophole-laden, Swiss cheese rules don’t even rise to the standard President Obama negotiated with car companies nine years ago,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Global warming is burning forests, roasting the West and worsening storms. Now is not the time to propose weak standards and promise strong ones later.”

Today’s proposal relies on voluntary commitments from carmakers to make up to 50% of their fleets electric by 2030. But such promises are unenforceable — and unreliable given that the industry reneged on its deal with the Obama administration. As soon as former President Trump was elected, carmakers asked the new president to roll back the standards.

“Automakers tore up the last promise they made to cut pollution, so why would anyone trust their new one?” said Becker. “Voluntary pledges from auto companies make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight look like a legally binding contract.”

To truly drive climate progress, the Center is calling on Biden to immediately mandate the auto rules he helped negotiate with carmakers nearly a decade ago.

The president should tell the Environmental Protection Agency to write new rules that:

  • Phase out sales of new gas-powered cars and trucks in favor of electric vehicles by 2030;
  • Require automakers to reduce heat-trapping pollution by 7% each year until then;
  • Close loopholes that allow manufacturers to escape real improvements;
  • Promote equity and good electric-vehicle jobs.

Automakers have the technology to safely advance all these changes. And consumers will save more at the pump than these improvements cost.

“The Biden administration is recommending a weak rule dressed up to look like something better. This is an Edsel masquerading as a Tesla,” Becker said. “Biden must reimpose the genuine Obama standard and use it to launch far stronger long-term emissions rules. We urgently need to cut greenhouse gas pollution to have a chance at a livable planet, and voluntary measures won’t cut it.”

Miami traffic congestion, I-95 North rush hour
I-95 North in Miami FL, afternoon rush hour | Source: Creative Commons Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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