The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed a rule to regulate car and heavy truck emissions. With transportation representing the largest sector nationally in carbon pollution, these rules will be pivotal in bringing down harmful pollution that poses a danger to public health.
The proposed standards are the strongest in history, and could result in electric vehicles (EVs) representing 67% of vehicles sold by 2032 – up from just 7% today. Michigan is poised to be at the center of EV development and production. The EPA’s rule – combined with federal investments from a suite of new programs – could result in a massive boom for the state’s auto industry and workers in the manufacturing sector.
The proposed standards to cut medium and heavy duty vehicle emissions are critical to addressing environmental injustices here in Michigan. Freight truck pollution harms everyone, but especially those who live near highways, ports, freight hubs and other high traffic areas – like low-income neighborhoods in Detroit near bridges, factories, and port facilities. Early analysis of the proposed rule announced today indicates that there is room to strengthen the standards to best protect health in these communities and for everyone in the country.
Importantly, the reduction in dangerous pollution that comes from tailpipes will save lives, but only if our electricity grid is also cleaned up. As more and more electric vehicles are plugged into the grid, it is essential EVs are plugged into a clean and carbon pollution-free grid. That means Michigan’s investor-owned utilities – DTE and Consumers Energy – need to move faster to retire all fossil fuel use.
Fortunately, Michigan is ready to take action. Today, the Michigan Senate announced a package of bills designed to implement Governor Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate plan. The bills are a huge step towards building a carbon-free future in the state.
The package includes legislation to set a 100% renewable energy standard by 2035. It updates Michigan’s energy efficiency standards which will save residents money on their energy bills. The legislation also importantly empowers the Michigan Public Service Commission to use climate, public health and affordability concerns in regulating the utilities. More action and legislation is needed (and expected), but this initial package is a game-changer for Michigan.
All levels of government need to be involved in addressing the climate crisis. With the EPA pushing to reduce transportation emissions and the state working to clean up the grid, the future in Michigan looks bright. However, the job is not done. A lot of work will need to be done to ensure passage of these bills in the legislature and the EPA rule is not finalized. We need everyone to let their legislators know addressing climate is a top priority and push the EPA to finalize these regulations.