Tougher vehicle emissions requirements finalized by EPA

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 28, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized tougher vehicle emissions requirements, reversing former President Donald Trump-era policies.

The new requirements shift the country to look towards electric vehicles and reducing pollution significantly over the next five years. The rules will decrease carbon dioxide emissions from vehicle by 3.1 billion tons through 2050, according to Reuters. The EPA’s guidelines coincide with the goals of President Joe Biden’s administration. Biden wants to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. to around 50 percent by 2030. He also has been pushing for stricter fuel efficiency standards, like former President Barack Obama did in the early 2010s.

In 2020, Trump rolled back Obama’s efficiency standards by 3.5 percent. The switch made is so vehicles in the U.S. only had to average 40.4 miles per gallon rather than nearly 47 miles per gallon by 2026 under Obama’s regulations.

The new EPA standards will take effect in the 2023 model year. The Alliances for Automotive Innovation, an auto trade association, said the new requirements will result in an increase in electrical vehicles and incentives from the government for consumers to switch to purchasing those cars. When announcing the finalization, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the standards were “doable” even if they are tough. He said he wants to move ahead to the next round of requirements soon.

“We are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet,” Regan said.

Biden pushes to expand electric vehicles market

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | August 6, 2021

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday that aims to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric.

The administration has been looking at ways to decrease the United States greenhouse gas emissions since her entered office in January. The executive order is part of the administration’s goals to fight climate change. Alongside increasing the amount of electric vehicles on the road, Biden announced a proposal for new vehicle emission standards with increased stringency beginning in the 2023 model year.

While the executive order’s target is not legally binding, Reuters reported that Chrysler parent Stellantis NV, Ford Motors, and General Motors are planning to achieve 40 or 50% sales on electric vehicles by 2030.

Other brands intend to move to only electric vehicles by the 2030 deadline, like Volvo. According to CNBC, other companies, like General Motors, are aspiring to similar goals in the next 20 years.

During the Obama administration, a previous goal was set regarding the number of electric vehicles to be sold by 2015. The goal of 1 million vehicles fell short with only 400,000 sold.

Some elected officials from Iowa are asking Biden to consider prioritizing biofuels instead of electric vehicles. Senator Joni Ernst tweeted that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50%. The Biden administration has not responded to any biofuels inquiries since the executive order’s announcement.

These car companies plan on producing electric-vehicles.

Image of Ford Mustang Mach-E Via Car and Driver

Maxwell Bernstein | March 26, 2021

As humans change the climate with the production of greenhouse gasses, car companies are shifting to electric vehicles to mitigate climate change disasters. According to the EPA, transportation accounts for about 28% of greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the car companies that plan on investing and working toward electric-vehicle production.

General Motors (GM): American company General Motors plans on having an all-electric lineup by 2035. Their plan for this all-electric lineup has begun with the release of two Chevy Bolt models and an all-electric GMC Hummer EV pickup truck, according to CNBC.

Ford: Ford said that their European cars will be fully electric or plug-in hybrid by mid-2026 and all-electric by 2030. Ford has plans to spend $22 billion in electrification through 2025, according to Reuters.    

Volvo: On Tuesday, the Chinese-owned automotive company said they will become a “fully electric car company” by 2030, with the complete removal of internal combustion engines, according to CNBC.

Tata Motors: Located in India, Tata motors who owns Jaguar and Land Rover will have Jaguar going all-electric from 2025 and Land Rover rolling out six electric vehicles over the next year.

Volkswagen: The German company Volkswagen plans on releasing 70 all-electric vehicles by 2030 and plans on investing around $42 billion in battery electric vehicles.

Kia: Located in South Korea, Kia will release 11 electric vehicles by 2026, and the all-electric Kia EV6 by the end of this month, according to Car and Driver.

As of March 18, 2021, shares for Ford Motor Co. were up 42%, GM was up 42%, and VW shares were up 46%. Investors are gaining confidence in these carmakers as they reinvent themselves as producers of electric-vehicles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tom Vilsack’s USDA Secretary Nomination Passes Committee, Moves to Full Senate

Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | February 4, 2021

The Senate agriculture committee approved former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s nomination as U.S. agriculture secretary Tuesday and sent it on to the full Senate for consideration.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, are expected to join Democratic Senators in confirming Vilsack’s nomination. Once confirmed, Vilsack will begin his second tour as agriculture secretary, a position he previously held from 2009 to 2017 under President Barack Obama. His position under Biden will come with the responsibility of leading the department during a global pandemic that has increased the need for food assistance, and he will be tasked with urging the agriculture industry to prioritize combatting climate change as Biden’s nominee, according to a Des Moines Register article.

Vilsack fielded multiple questions about climate change and biofuels while the Senate agriculture committee considered his nomination. As an Iowa Republican, Sen. Joni Ernst took an interest in his views on ethanol and biofuel production. She asked if he would support their production as President Biden looks to shift the country to electric vehicles, a move she said would put farmers at risk.

Vilsack responded that it is necessary to advance the production of both electric vehicles and biofuels moving forward. He referenced a recent study showing that greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are 46% lower than from gasoline, and he reassured the committee that Americans need the biofuel industry for the foreseeable future as electric vehicle technology catches up. Vilsack added that expanding renewable energy can also benefit farmers. Iowa farmers and landowners receive about $69 million annually from energy companies that lease their land for wind turbines, and those opportunities could expand as demand for electric vehicles increases.

New Research Shows Electric Vehicles Really Do Produce Fewer Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Fossil Fuel Powered Vehicles

Maxwell Bernstein | March 27, 2020

Myths based around the “greenness” of the production and use of electric vehicles have been debunked. New research shows that a push for electric vehicles will produce less total heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions than the production and use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Skeptics of electric vehicles thought that the overall production and implementation of electric vehicles would create more greenhouse gas emissions than our current system. 

Researchers in University of Exeter, England; Cambridge University, England; and Nijmegen University, Netherlands recently found that the production and use of electric vehicles produce 30% less greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. than those of gas powered cars. 

Their findings also showed electric vehicles produced 70% less greenhouse gas emissions in France and Sweden because their renewable-centric electric grids reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the charging of electric vehicles. 

The research found that electric cars are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel powered vehicles in most countries except for some exceptions, like Poland, who’s power grid consists of 80% coal. 

Cars and trucks that run on gas account for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Researchers from several universities in England found that using electric vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without a change in lifestyle, making widespread use of electric vehicles more promising and likely to reducetotal greenhouse gas emissions. 

Midwest school buses go electric

Four states are using VW settlement money to replace old school buses with modern electric ones (flickr). 

Julia Poska | November 23, 2018

Four midwestern states have secured a total of $20,000 in funding for fully electric school buses and charging stations, funded through settlements with Volkswagen over a 2015 scandal.

Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan set aside $11, $3, $2.75 and $3 million respectively. The states learned about the importance of decreasing children’s exposure to harmful diesel exhaust fumes during the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s four-state electric schools tour.

School buses are a particularly good candidate for electrification because they idle in front of school buildings for significant periods of time before and after school, releasing a high concentration of emissions in those areas full of children. According to The Lion Electric Company, one maker of such buses, converting one traditional bus to electric keeps 23 tons of greenhouse gases out of the air.

At about $300,000 each,  an electric school bus costs about three times more than a traditional diesel one, according to the ELPC, but savings on diesel and maintenance can total about $12,000 annually. Still, these funds will only provide buses to a few districts in each state.

EPA to maintain fuel economy standards

The fuel economy standards require all new fleets of light trucks and cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon. (Robert Couse-Baker/flickr)

Jenna Ladd | December 1, 2016

Despite objection from automakers, the Obama administration decided on Wednesday to maintain fuel economy requirements for light trucks and cars.

Following a technical analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was concluded that vehicle manufacturers are able to continue meeting emissions standards and fuel economy requirements for model years 2022-2025. The standards require that new fleets of light trucks and cars average 54.5 miles per gallon, with a reduction to 50.8 miles per gallon should buying habits change. In a statement Wednesday, the EPA said that the requirements help to save drivers billions of dollars at the pump, double new-car gas mileage and drastically reduce carbon emissions. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said,

“Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering. This will enable long-term planning in the auto industry, while also benefiting consumers and the environment.”

Dan Becker is the director of the Safe Climate campaign environmental group. He said, “Numerous studies demonstrate that automakers have ample, affordable technology to achieve the program’s cost-effective goals.” Becker also said that the EPA plans to make the decision final before president-elect Trump is inaugurated in January.

The EPA is accepting public comment on the decision through December 30th, 2016. Comments can be submitted at to Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0827.

On The Radio – Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars

The University of Iowa’s team presenting during Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition on April 9, 2016 in Iowa City. From left: Blake Robinson, Matt Taflinger, and Feng Mao. (UI American Marketing Association/Facebook)

Nick Fetty | April 25, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at competition in which Iowa college students studied consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles.

Transcript: Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars

In an effort to turn more people on to electric cars, a utility company has turned to Iowa college students for help.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy has teamed up with the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business for Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition, which took place earlier this month. The event gave an opportunity for teams of students from the University of Iowa as well as Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Luther College, and St. Ambrose University to study consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles, such as cost and availability.

Blake Robinson – a business student at the UI – along with classmates Feng Mao and Matt Taflinger won first place in the competition. The team’s platform aimed to educate consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles, motivating dealers to sell more electric vehicles, and lobbying for state-level legislation that would build the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles to succeed. Robinson said he learned a lot from the opportunity.

Robinson: “What I learned is that a sustainable future with automobiles is in electric vehicles. I’m excited for what’s to come. Tesla has many great new innovations that will really change the industry and I’m just looking forward for what the future holds.”

The first place finish netted Robinson and his team $1,250 in prize money.

For more information about the competition, visit

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Chevy to release all-electric vehicle

General Motors will release a subcompact entirely electric powered car starting in 2013.

Read more from Midwest Energy News below:

General Motors is about to enter the all-electric car market.

The gasoline-powered subcompact Chevrolet Spark that will be sold at Chevrolet dealers beginning in 2012 will also be available in selected markets as an all-electric battery powered vehicle during 2013. Continue reading

On the Radio: Kwik Trip helps electric car owners

Photo by wd wilson, Flickr

Listen to this week’s radio piece here or read the transcript below.  This week’s radio segment discusses Kwik Trip gas stations’ new electric charging ports in northern Iowa.

Imagine all our gas pumps replaced with electrical outlets. Kwik Trip gas stations in the Midwest are taking the initial step in making this vision a reality. Continue reading