Car Industry

Biden urged to set date for end of gas-powered car sales in US

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, both Democrats, want the president to follow the state's lead and commit to a firm date.

President Biden has already ordered the EPA and NHTSA to review federal standards.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

We likely won't know the details surrounding President Joe Biden's plans on fuel economy and vehicle emissions regulations until this summer at the earliest, but both of California's senators want the president to get tough on the internal-combustion engine. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, both Democrats, have urged Biden to follow the state's lead and set a date to end the sale of cars powered by fossil fuels, Reuters reports.

"We write to urge you to maintain states' authority to set vehicle emissions standards necessary to protect the health and welfare of their people … Importantly, California and other states need a strong federal partner," the senators said in a joint letter to the president Monday.

Sen. Padilla and Sen. Feinstein's office declined to comment further. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year signed an executive order that will end the sale of all new vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel by 2035, and Sens. Feinstein and Padilla said in their letter that the US needs to act swiftly to transition to more zero-emissions vehicles. Both also want the president to fully restore the state's ability to declare its own standards, which 13 other states currently follow. California is the largest new car market in the country.

The senators further urged Biden to use the California compromise deal between Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW as a template for national fuel economy and emissions standards. The deal, which the automakers made voluntarily, will see fuel economy improve by 3.7% each year. The Trump administration slashed requirements to 1.5% yearly, down from the Obama administration's goal to see 5% improvements each year from automakers. The baseline for any new national standards should be the 3.7% improvement, the senators said in their letter, according to the report.

The Biden administration has so far come out strongly in favor of EV adoption, with the president announcing plans to convert the entire federal fleet of vehicles to battery-electric cars. That pledge quickly hit a snag, however, when the USPS announced its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which does not fulfill the president's requirements. The selection process dates back to 2015. Lawmakers have already called the contract into question and proposed additional funding to turn the USPS fleet largely electric, rather than current plans calling for one in 10 of the new mail trucks to feature a zero-emissions powertrain.