The Biden administration is on track to propose by the end of July new limits on the emission of greenhouse gases from automobiles that are strong enough to meet “the urgency of the climate crisis,” according to EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
“We need to go as far as we can to meet the demands of the day,” Regan said in an exclusive interview Tuesday with Bloomberg News. “The science indicates we have a short window in time to reverse the path that we’re on and mitigate against certain climate impacts.”
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now rewriting a Trump-era regulation that relaxed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles through the 2026 model year. The issue is shaping up to be an early test of President Joe Biden’s commitment to fighting climate change through ambitious greenhouse-gas controls, even when opposed by industry.
In the interview, Regan also highlighted California’s unique role in fighting pollution, the return of the U.S. to the Paris climate accord, the potential role of a carbon tax and the urgent need to replace hundreds of scientists shed by the agency under former President Donald Trump.
Regan signaled the EPA would not yield to pressure from automakers to water down tailpipe emissions requirements, given that the transportation sector is now the top U.S. source of planet-warming pollution.
“We are heavily engaged with the business community. We are heavily engaged with the labor community,” Regan said. “It’s a false option to choose between economic development and prosperity and environmental protection.”
The EPA also is set within weeks to formally issue its plans for a Trump-era rule that blocked California from setting its own vehicle emissions standards. Regan stressed Tuesday that he’s “a firm believer in the state’s statutory authority to lead, in California being the leader.”
Regan did not rule out future emissions requirements that create a de facto ban on new conventional, gasoline-powered automobiles, like an explicit phase out ordered by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
“We’re taking a strong look at what the science is urging us to do. We’re looking at where technologies are,” Regan said. “We’re marrying our regulatory policy and what we have the statutory authority to do with where the science directs us and where the markets and technology are.”
Weeks into his job leading the EPA, Regan is charged with implementing Biden’s environmental ambitions, including aggressive action to combat climate change and help communities long battered by pollution. The EPA is on the front lines of both fights, which will force Regan to navigate oft-competing interests of industry and environmentalists.
Regan, 44, won his confirmation to lead the EPA last month based largely on his reputation for forging consensus on thorny issues as North Carolina’s top environmental regulator. But Regan said some issues are too weighty for compromise.
“I do firmly believe in consensus building. I believe in engaging…