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Scientists say new U.S. EPA greenhouse gas standards for cars not strict enough

 Scientists say tailpipe emissions from cars must be zero by the year 2050 to prevent the worst impact of the upcoming climate catastrophe
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Scientists say tailpipe emissions from cars must be zero by the year 2050 to prevent the worst impact of the upcoming climate catastrophe

The federal government is issuing stricter rules for greenhouse gas emissions from cars for the years 2023 through 2026.

EPA officials say the updated standards are based on sound science and will result in avoiding more than three billion tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through 2050.

The new standards essentially backtrack, restoring Obama-era standards that were frozen during the Trump administration.

But the standard doesn't account for the four years of inaction during the Trump presidency, according to Dan Becker, Director of the Safe Climate Transport Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity.

And he said "sound science" actually calls for a much more robust and immediate response to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars, SUVs, and trucks.

"The president is right - global warming is an existential threat," said Becker. "But these standards don't face that threat down. They're just too weak. What the Biden administration did is put a speed bump on the road to climate catastrophic where what they needed to do was make a U-turn."

The EPA is expected to issue a second set of GHG emissions rules for cars next year, for the years 2026 through at least 2030.

Becker says those new rules will have to do the bulk of the work to avert climate catastrophe, because this year's rules are so weak.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.