Dan Ryan Expressway traffic at dusk

Traffic is backed up along the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago in this December 5, 2023 photo.

(Photo: David Wilson/flickr/cc)

Sierra Club Urges Dem Senators to Uphold Biden Clean Vehicle Standards

One campaigner from the green group decried the "dangerous attempt to roll back progress on climate, clean air, and cleaner cars" by some lawmakers skeptical of the new EPA rules.

The Sierra Club on Wednesday launched a multistate digital ad campaign aimed at persuading seven U.S. senators—six of them Democrats—to back the Biden administration's already weakened tailpipe pollution standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

The new campaign targets Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Az.), John Tester (D-Mt.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who have been critical of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recently finalized federal clean vehicle standards.

"The Sierra Club urges all senators to protect their constituents from toxic vehicle pollution and support these clean car standards that will save families money and give car buyers more choice," Will Anderson, the green group's deputy legislative director, said in a statement.

"The popular clean car standards are the latest commonsense action by the Environmental Protection Agency to tackle our nation's most polluting sector—transportation—and they work," Anderson added. "Trying to undo them is a dangerous attempt to roll back progress on climate, clean air, and cleaner cars that will benefit communities across the country."

Some of the ads are custom-tailored to individual lawmakers. Responding to Fetterman's recent criticism of the new EPA rules, one of the videos argues that "repealing this standard would harm Pennsylvania's growing clean energy economy, undermine efforts to clean up our air, and hurt children and seniors with asthma and other respiratory problems."

"We urge Sen. Fetterman to protect Pennsylvania families who will benefit from this lifesaving standard that will create jobs and give car buyers more options—not Big Polluters and their Republican allies who want to roll back climate progress," the video adds.

The EPA estimates that the new standards will prevent 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and provide $13 billion in annualized net benefits for consumers and the climate. While some environmentalists have hailed the new rules as the strongest ever of their kind, others argue they don't go far enough.

Dan Becker, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Safe Climate Transport Campaign, last month claimed that "the EPA caved to pressure from Big Auto, Big Oil, and car dealers and riddled the plan with loopholes big enough to drive a Ford F-150 through."

The new Sierra Club campaign launched the day after a federal appellate panel upheld the Biden administration's 2022 decision to preserve California's strict vehicle emission standards, which have been adopted by 17 states and the District of Columbia. California's mandate is more stringent than the new EPA standards, which set no quotas for zero-emission vehicle sales.

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