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The Biden administration has announced new national pollution standards for vehicles that will require automakers to produce more electric and hybrid vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and trucks by almost half by 2032. Washington state has ambitious goals to shift from gas and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs), with a requirement for all new vehicles sold in the state to be zero carbon emissions by 2035. Last year, over 13% of new vehicle registrations in Washington were electric or plug-in hybrids, with the state seeing progress in reducing transportation emissions.

Transportation emissions are a key area for combating climate change, responsible for 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. The global response to climate change is increasingly critical, as 2023 was confirmed to be the warmest year on record worldwide. Despite the pressing need to address climate change, support for EVs has become politicized in the U.S., with former President Trump claiming that the shift to EVs will harm the auto industry.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuels, including job creation, improved public health due to better air quality, and estimated savings of $6,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of an EV. The federal rules do not mandate consumers to purchase EVs but set limits for automakers on allowable pollution levels based on all the vehicles they produce. There are still obstacles to widespread EV adoption, such as limited access to chargers, particularly in rural areas, and the higher cost of many EV models.

Washington state and the nation are working on developing EV infrastructure to accommodate drivers’ recharging needs, while manufacturers are introducing EVs with more powerful batteries. While most EVs on the market are higher-end models, more affordable options are becoming available, and tax credits are helping to offset costs. The move towards electric and hybrid vehicles is seen as a positive step towards reducing emissions and improving air quality, with potential benefits for both the environment and consumers.

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