EPA Trends and Compliance Report Shows Importance of Strong Rules and Electrification

Statement by Dave Cooke, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 20, 2023

WASHINGTON (December 20, 2023)—Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Trends and Compliance report, a close examination of the environmental impact and technological advancements in the country’s passenger cars and light trucks. The report shows significant improvement in reducing emissions, driven by the increased sales of electric vehicles. The report shows the continued importance of strong emissions and efficiency standards, the positive impact of electrification, and the need for automakers to go further in cleaning up the cars and trucks they sell, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Clean Transportation Program at UCS.

“The good news in this report is that passenger cars and trucks are cleaner than ever, with the highest fuel economy on record and the greatest year-over-year reduction in emissions since EPA began regulating global warming pollution in 2012. The EPA’s emissions rules are one of the most effective policies available to clean up pollution and reduce the risks of global warming. It’s particularly important to have policies that encourage electrification. These policies build on the rapid growth of the electric vehicle market, a shift that is having real, meaningful effects on emissions.

“Unfortunately, the report also shows that automakers are lagging in their efforts to clean up conventional gasoline vehicles, which are still the vast majority of new vehicles sold and will be on the road for years to come. Emissions from these vehicles have barely budged since 2015. There’s a wide array of technologies available to reduce fuel use and emissions from gasoline vehicles, but the upsides of these technologies are getting drowned out by the fact that manufacturers keep putting bigger and heavier vehicles on the market. All of the progress shown in this report comes from electric vehicles, not conventional gasoline vehicles.

“This report has lessons for how to make even more progress in the future. The EPA must ensure that the next round of vehicle standards are strong enough to drive significant emissions reductions across all vehicle types, encourage innovation in both gasoline and electric vehicles, and put more electric vehicles on the market. Automakers have shown that they won’t clean up their fleets without strong rules in place. Transportation is the biggest source of global warming pollution in the country and we can’t meet our climate goals without dramatically reducing the amount of oil that gets burned in the cars and trucks on the road.”