Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Biden Owes Voters Climate Action on Auto Pollution

Voters who helped elect Biden—and who he'll need to win reelection—are among the most affected by and concerned about climate.

Dan Becker

 by The Hill

President Biden was right when he said global warming is an existential threat. That's why it's so disappointing that his administration produced auto-pollution rules that are a speed bump on the road to the climate precipice, right when we need a U-turn.

The new auto rules the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized last Monday wrapped anemic pollution reductions with tinsel and bows for the auto industry in the form of loopholes and giveaways.

Adopting a strong rule slashing auto pollution, Biden could take the biggest single step any nation has taken to protect the planet and deliver on these essential voters' high-priority climate concerns.

The administration crowed about the rules being the most ambitious mileage goals ever. Yet, they only slightly improve on standards automakers agreed to nine years ago with President Obama, when global warming was far less severe. Those rules were reversed by President Trump at the request of the car companies.

Among the loopholes, the new rules allow auto companies to make more gas-guzzling cars, pickups and SUVs if they include technologies like solar panels on car rooftops that don't significantly cut emissions.

Climate advocates always look for the good news. Even with power-plant emission cuts stymied as Biden's climate provisions in the Build Back Better bill languishes in the Senate and the weak short-term auto pollution rule, the president still has a chance to dramatically cut the nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Biden's EPA is poised to begin writing the agency's next phase of standards for model year 2027 and beyond, to be enacted within the president's current term.

These long-term rules must dramatically speed the transition to a zero-emissions era with enforceable rules that force auto companies to build electric vehicles rather than just manufacture promises to make some someday.   

With aggressive action on cars and trucks, Biden can avert both climate and political peril.  

Voters who helped elect Biden—and who he'll need to win reelection—are among the most affected by and concerned about climate.

In the runup to the 2020 election, a survey by Yale and George Mason universities found that 57 percent of registered Black and Latino voters said global warming would be "very important" to their vote. "Climate change disproportionately affects members of disadvantaged communities and groups who face socioeconomic inequalities, including many people of color," the study reported.

Building on Union of Concerned Scientists calculations, a joint Columbia University-Center for Public Integrity study found that in U.S. counties where Black people made up at least one-quarter of the population, temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit an average of 18 days a year, compared with roughly seven days annually in the rest of the country.

In one low-income community of central Phoenix, the incidence of heat illness since 2010 grew seven times faster than in the rest of the city, the Columbia report said.

Arizona was a 2020 battleground that the Democratic presidential candidate won for the first time since 1996. The 4-to-1 edge Biden achieved in one of Phoenix's poorest districts allowed him to beat Trump in the state by roughly 10,500 votes, or 0.3 percent of the total vote—a slimmer winning margin than in any state other than Georgia.

Polls show young people care deeply about the climate. Among millennial and younger Democrats, another critically important constituency, 88 percent told Pew Research Center pollsters last year that the government was doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. Their voting participation increased dramatically in 2020.

Together these groups supported Biden by substantial margins: 92 percent of Black non-Latino voters, 59 percent of Latino voters and 59 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 voted for him.

The president can deliver for them. Adopting a strong rule slashing auto pollution, Biden could take the biggest single step any nation has taken to protect the planet and deliver on these essential voters' high-priority climate concerns.

The president owes them, and the world is at stake.


© 2021 The Hill
Dan-Becker

Dan Becker

Dan Becker is the director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport Campaign.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

At Least 14 Children, 1 Teacher Killed by Gunman at Texas Elementary School

"They fucking failed our kids again," the father of a Parkland massacre victim fumed. "How many more times are we gonna sit back?... How many more times?"

Brett Wilkins ·


Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

"The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives," said one civil liberties advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·


Atwood Releases Fire-Proof Copy of 'Handmaid's Tale' to Combat GOP Book-Banning

"To see her classic novel about the dangers of oppression reborn in this innovative, unburnable edition is a timely reminder of what's at stake in the battle against censorship."

Julia Conley ·


Map Shows Over 17 Million People in US Threatened by Toxic Fossil Fuel Pollution

"Living in close proximity to oil and gas development is a threat to public health."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo