Biden EPA, Transportation Dept Picks Mean Tighter Emissions And Electric Future

The future of transportation is seeing a whipsaw of legislation going back and forth with the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Under the Obama administration, the auto industry saw tighter restrictions on emissions caps. With Trump in office, he tried to undo Obama’s goals saying they inhibited production and raised prices. With Trump out Joe Biden has already signaled we’ll be swinging back to tighter emissions and an electric future.

Incentives for electric vehicles will be the order of the Biden administration

The eCrate Electric Concept | Chevrolet

Incentives for electric vehicles, though not defined at this early stage, will be the order of the Biden administration. All of these changes will take time. Once revealed will see an adjustment process before a final decision and mandate are made. 

Obama era regulations and joining the Paris Climate Accords means a number of things. Moves to hasten abandoning fossil fuels is one of them according to Reuters. This entails the US establishing stricter fuel economy standards than anything we’ve seen before. Trump’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Rules fuel rollback is most certainly out. 

Claims by the Trump administration that rollbacks made cars safer were specious

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with General Motors CEO Mary Barra | Getty

A lot of the science behind these rollbacks just wasn’t there. And claims by the Trump administration that the rollbacks would make cars safer was specious. The bottom line is that a lot of the Obama era regulations will be shepherded by the exact same people seeing Biden’s transition team.

Patrice Simms will oversee the EPA. He’s filed over 100 lawsuits against various Trump administration attempts to gut the EPA. An environmental attorney at Earthjustice, he was previously a deputy assistant attorney general in the environmental division of the Justice Department. Joe Goffman, general counsel at the Obama’s EPA, will join EPA chief Gina McCarthy. Cynthia Giles is also on board. She served as an assistant administrator in the EPA’s enforcement office.

Biden’s Transportation Department will be overseen by Phillip Washington, chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg will also be part of the team as well as Therese McMillan, former acting head of the Federal Transit Administration under Obama.

The Interior Department had become less a conservator of natural resources and more a broker

Car emissions coming from the tailpipe of a car
A vehicle’s exhaust pipe releases fumes | Getty

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The Interior Department under Trump had become less of a conservator of natural resources and more of a broker. Natural resources were becoming available to the highest bidder. Now, the Interior Department will be overseen by Kevin Washburn, a former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. Former deputy assistant secretary policy, management, and budget Elizabeth Klein come back as does Kate Kelly who was a senior advisor to Sally Jewell, the former Interior Secretary. Former climate policy adviser Maggie Thomas will also join the team.

All of this means auto manufacturers will need to meet ever toughening fuel standards. So it is hybrids and EVs for all, especially as fuel prices increase. It also means that the war between whether the California Air Resources Board can set its own, tougher standards will go to Cali. Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandate to ban gas-powered vehicles in California by 2035 looks a lot more viable under Biden’s administration. 

So we’re on track to go back to where we left off in 2016. Eight years forward and four years back. That’s the government for you.