Vanessa Glavinskas 2 minute read

EPA's new tailpipe rules will deliver cleaner air, tackle climate change

Published: Last Updated:

Update April 2, 2024: This article was updated to include a second rule limiting pollution from heavy-duty trucks, which was announced on March 29. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized stronger limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and light trucks that will lead to dramatically cleaner air and slash planet-warming pollution. 

Cloudy exhaust coming out of a car's tailpipe
Exposure to high levels of tailpipe pollution is linked to asthma, heart disease and cancer. (Getty)

The new rule, which applies to model years 2027 through 2032, is expected to prevent 7 billion tons of climate pollution by 2055. That's more than all the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by the U.S. last year.

“The step EPA is taking will slash climate pollution and air pollution,” said Amanda Leland, executive director of Environmental Defense Fund. “It will bring more jobs for workers, more choices and more savings for consumers, and a healthier future for our children.” 

Transportation is the biggest source of planet-warming pollution in the United States. Tailpipe pollution is also harmful to your health — exposure is linked to asthma, heart disease and cancer. 

Automakers will be able to meet the new requirements through a variety of technologies, including improving the efficiency of gas-powered vehicles as well as investing in hybrid and electric vehicles. 

“Pollution-free cars, trucks and SUVs are on our roads right now and are saving their owners thousands of dollars on fuel and maintenance costs,” Leland says. “EPA’s clean car standards will make it easier for every American to drive a clean car if they want to — and that will mean healthier air and a safer climate for all.”

The new standards are projected to prevent millions of asthma attacks and up to 2,500 premature deaths a year.

They also come at a time when automakers are already investing in zero-emission vehicles. Manufacturers across the U.S. have announced $188 billion of investment in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing, most since the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.

“EPA’s standards are performance-based and technology neutral as they have long been under both Democratic and Republican administrations alike,” says EDF attorney Peter Zalzal. “However, many manufacturers have already indicated they plan to make and sell more EVs — vehicles that will provide significant consumer savings to American families and support a continued renaissance in domestic EV manufacturing and job growth.”

Ford, for example, expects electric vehicles to represent half of its global sales volume by 2030.  And General Motors aims to eliminate tailpipe pollution from new passenger vehicles by 2035.

The new regulations on cars, passenger trucks and urban delivery vehicles are meant to tackle the biggest source of planet-warming pollution in the U.S. — transportation — and represent a key part of President Biden’s efforts to combat climate change.

A second rule limiting pollution from heavy-duty trucks was announced by the EPA on March 29. The move by will help cut pollution from new heavy-duty vehicles like freight trucks, garbage trucks and school buses, avoiding 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hope for a warming planet

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