June 16, 2024
Electric & Hybrid Cars

Are plug-in vehicles contributing to pollution? Biden’s emissions regulations are lenient on hybrid trucks and SUVs

When the Biden administration unveiled new U.S. auto-emissions regulations in March, it included concessions to the industry allowing for a slower transition to electric vehicles than initially proposed a year earlier.

Instead of targeting a two-thirds conversion to EVs by 2032, the administration lowered the goal and permitted automakers to meet requirements by producing more gas-electric hybrids.

Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made a surprising statement claiming that the relaxed regulations would still result in similar pollution reductions as the original proposal.

An assessment by Reuters of the rule changes and emissions projections from the agency reveals that the concessions will lead to significantly more pollution than initially anticipated. This is due to delays in imposing stricter emissions limits and the use of an outdated formula for plug-in hybrids that underestimates their real-world pollution levels.

According to EPA projections, the average carbon emissions per mile from light-duty vehicles will be 14% higher between 2027 and 2032 under the new rules compared to the original proposal.

Furthermore, the EPA’s formula for plug-in hybrids underestimates emissions by 25% to 75% depending on the vehicle’s battery range, as indicated by data from researchers and California regulators.

In the original proposal, the EPA intended to replace the 14-year-old formula for plug-in-hybrid emissions with a more accurate measure based on actual charging data. However, under pressure from automakers, the EPA decided to retain the old formula until 2031, citing concerns about stifling innovation in plug-in technology.

The EPA defended the new rules, stating that they would deliver significant pollution reductions that are both achievable and affordable for automakers, providing consumers with a variety of options.

Environmental advocates raised concerns about the impact of the lenient regulations potentially incentivizing the production of more plug-in hybrids. Currently, plug-ins represent only 2% of U.S. retail auto sales, with all hybrids accounting for 11.9%.

FAQ Section

Q: Will the new regulations lead to more efficient plug-in hybrids?

A: The EPA stated that the rules will not encourage inefficient plug-ins, as automakers will need to offset them with more efficient vehicles.


In conclusion, the adjustments made to the U.S. auto-emissions regulations by the Biden administration have raised concerns about potential increases in pollution due to delays in implementing stricter standards and the use of outdated formulas for plug-in hybrids. While the EPA maintains that the new rules will still result in significant pollution reductions, the long-term impact remains uncertain. It will be crucial for future administrations to continue pushing for cleaner vehicles and stricter emissions standards to combat environmental challenges.

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