Oil trade group API sues Biden administration over emission rules that support EV business

By Editor


The American Petroleum Institute (API), representing major oil companies including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to curb emissions from cars and light trucks and promote electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing.

In March, the Joe Biden administration, which is facing an election this year, finalized new federal vehicle emissions standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles that require 68 percent of new passenger vehicles and 43 percent of new medium-duty trucks and vans to be electric by 2032.

Emission from vehicles

The lawsuit by API comes at a time when the entire world is facing troubles from growth in emissions from vehicles on roads.

For instance, Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 28 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. GHG emissions. Between 1990 and 2022, GHG emissions in the transportation sector increased more in absolute terms than any other sector.

Across Europe, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) are respectively responsible for around 16 percent and 3 percent of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas driving climate change.

EV Growth

Americans bought 268,909 new electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2024, according to Kelley Blue Book counts. EV share of total new-vehicle sales in Q1 was 7.3 percent, a decrease from Q4 2023. Growth in annual EV sales in the United States has slowed notably. Sales in Q1 rose 2.6 percent year over year, but fell 15.2 percent compared to Q4 2023.

The lawsuit, lodged in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, challenges the new tailpipe emission rules issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March, Reuters news report said.

EPA’s New Emission Standards

The EPA’s regulations require automakers to significantly increase the production and sale of electric vehicles to meet stringent new standards. The administration estimates that between 2030 and 2032, up to 56 percent of all car sales in the U.S. will be electric. These rules are part of President Joe Biden’s broader strategy to combat climate change by reducing planet-warming emissions.

API’s Legal Challenge

API argues that the EPA has overstepped its congressional authority with these regulations, which it claims will effectively phase out most new gasoline-powered and traditional hybrid vehicles within the next decade.

Ryan Meyers, API Senior Vice President and General Counsel, stated, “Today, we are taking action to protect American consumers, U.S. manufacturing workers, and our nation’s hard-won energy security from this intrusive government mandate.”

Broader Industry and Political Reactions

The lawsuit is supported by the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and six auto dealers representing 16 brands across the country. These farm groups advocate for the use of gas-powered cars to support the corn-ethanol industry.

Harold Wolle, President of the National Corn Growers Association, emphasized the role of corn ethanol in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, criticizing the EPA’s exclusive focus on electric vehicles.

In April, Republican attorneys general from 25 states also filed a lawsuit against the EPA to block these new standards. The regulations represent some of the most significant environmental measures implemented under President Biden, who has prioritized addressing climate change. However, these measures have also strained Biden’s relationship with the United Auto Workers, who are wary of the transition to electric vehicles, Reuters news report said.

Industry Endorsement and Political Implications

Despite the backlash from the oil industry, the U.S. auto industry has largely endorsed the new tailpipe standards. In response to concerns from auto workers, President Biden moderated the initial targets for EV adoption. Nonetheless, this adjustment has not appeased the oil industry, which remains heavily reliant on gas-powered vehicles.

The push for electric vehicles is a contentious issue in key industrial states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which are critical for both President Biden and his Republican challenger, Donald Trump, in the upcoming presidential election. Trump has consistently criticized electric vehicles and pledged to roll back the new emission standards if elected.


As the legal battle unfolds, the outcome will have significant implications for the future of vehicle emissions regulations, the automotive industry, and the broader efforts to address climate change. The Biden administration’s stance on electric vehicles and emissions reduction remains a central element of its environmental policy, facing strong opposition from the oil industry and political adversaries.

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