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EXCLUSIVE-Democratic lawmakers urge Biden to set tough vehicle emissions rules -letters

(Adds background, no immediate White House comment)

WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - Two groups of U.S. Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to reinstate tough Obama-era vehicle emissions standards through 2025 and do more to shift the U.S. toward electric vehicles, according to separate letters seen by Reuters that are not yet public.

A group of more than 70 U.S. House Democrats led by Representative Doris Matsui urged Biden to set tough emissions rules that ensure “60% of the new passenger cars and trucks sold are zero-emission by 2030,” while 10 U.S. senators led by Democrat Edward Markey urged Biden “to set a date by which new sales of fossil fuel vehicles will end entirely.”

Markey’s letter, which was also signed by Senators Richard Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley and others says it is essential “to ensure that we are on a trajectory to achieve the near-zero emission fleet that scientists have called for by 2050.”

The House letter, which is signed by Democrats, including Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Anna Eshoo, Adam Smith and Rashida Tlaib, urges Biden to adopt “ambitious post-2026 standards that put us on the path to having all light-duty vehicles be zero-emission by 2035.”

The White House did not immediately comment.

The Trump administration in March 2020 finalized a rollback of fuel economy standards to require 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts in Obama-administration rules it discarded.

On Monday, California’s two senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein also urged Biden to set a date to end gas-powered vehicle sales.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom directed new regulations to require all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California to be zero-emission by 2035.

California’s senators said Biden should use a compromise deal that California struck with automakers, including Ford , Honda, BMW and Volkswagen that falls between the Trump administration and Obama-era requirements.

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates the California deal improves fuel efficiency 3.7% year over year between 2022-2026.

Some environmental groups say that does not go far enough, while some automakers think the California deal is overly stringent. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)

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