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Biden administration to tighten emission standards. But is it enough to address climate crisis?

2021 Cadillac Escalade

The Associated Press says President Joe Biden will reinstate Obama-era fuel efficiency rules to address climate change.

But environmentalists say those standards - which the Trump administration scrapped  - are not enough. 

John DeCicco is an expert in vehicle fuel efficiency and an emeritus professor at the University of Michigan. He said fuel efficiency even during the Obama administration was stalling. That's because the standards allowed pickups and most SUVs to improve fuel efficiency by a smaller annual percentage than passenger cars. And most people are buying trucks and SUVs.

"We're right now, as of EPA's most recent data, essentially dead in the water in terms of efficiency  improvement," he said.  "They'll really need to go beyond that, particularly on the breaks that the Obama rules gave to light trucks and SUVs.

But DeCicco said another reason for the lack of efficiency improvement is what he calls the horsepower war among automakers.

He says companies are boosting vehicle size, horsepower and hauling capacity mostly for marketing reasons, when most consumers commute in the vehicles and don't need that extra muscle.    

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Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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