EPA to Tighten Vehicle Emissions as State Lawmakers Seek to Avoid Bans on Gas-Powered Cars

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits on vehicle emissions Wednesday that would require two-thirds of all new car and pickup truck sales and a quarter of heavy-duty trucks sold to be electric by 2032. That’s intended to meet President Joe Biden’s goal for electric cars to make up half of all new car sales by 2030. Nationally, electric vehicles made up nearly 6 percent of new car sales last year.

The announcement comes as Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have introduced legislation to prevent state and local governments from barring the sale of vehicles based on their energy source. So far, seven states plan to ban sales of gas-powered vehicles after 2035.

In a hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ellen Schutt, R-Clinton, said the bill would prevent communities from barring sales of gas-powered cars and trucks, as well as prohibit banning sales of electric vehicles. Evers has set a goal for the state to go carbon-neutral by 2050, and Schutt noted other communities intend to “go green.”

“We just want to make sure that the government doesn’t get involved to reach their green energy goals by doing mandates,” Schutt said.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation said in a memo the success of any proposed regulations would be tied to policies and favorable market conditions beyond electric cars that include affordability, utility capacity, charging infrastructure, supply chains and access to critical minerals.

Citing ongoing hurdles in those areas, Bill Sepic said the proposed rules don’t seem achievable in the proposed time frame. Sepic is president and CEO of the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association, which represents 700 licensed dealers statewide.

“Two years ago, we were at 3.2 percent of our vehicles (sold) were electric. That’s an astronomical leap,” Sepic said of the proposed regulations. “So, right now, you have a lot of concern, a lot of questions because there are no specifics that have been asked. This is a classic case of saying we’re going some place, we’re going to get there, but without a roadmap or a plan.”