High Octane, Low Carb #Biofuels Better for Fuel Economy

Joanna Schroeder

USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, is leading an effort to ensure that high octane, low carbon fuels are part of EPA’s midterm evaluation of the progress of federal fuel economy standards. Daschle was the author of the reformulated and oxygenated fuel provisions of the Clean Air Act, and also the lead sponsor of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), today arguably the most effective energy policy ever enacted in the U.S. Now Daschle is coordinating an effort that includes support from the Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Fuel Freedom Foundation along with several other fuel related organizations that support the use of biofuels to meet such goals as energy security, rural development, climate change reduction strategies, higher octane and improved fuel economy standards.

According to the former South Dakota lawmaker, this is not an effort to form another organization but rather an alliance of stakeholders that are hoping to be part of the process that, says Daschle, will dictate how vehicles and fuels evolve over the next several decades. The new organization, High Octane Low Carbon Alliance, will work directly with legislators and government officials.

As noted in the final Rule published in August of 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are required to conduct a midterm evaluation of the stringent mileage and carbon reduction requirements for vehicles. This federal requirement culminates in a 54 mile per gallon standard by the year 2025, and tailpipe emissions of 163 grams per mile of carbon.

Given the long lead time of the original rulemaking and the projections of circumstances 13 years in to the future, regulators and automakers agreed to conduct this midterm evaluation of the progress of the program, and the likelihood of success. EPA says it will be a “collaborative, robust, and transparent process” that will begin with a Technical Assessment Report to be issued this month and open for public comment.

This Ford C-Max uses E15 and an electric motor to improve fuel economy. And yes, this is my car and it loves E15.

This Ford C-Max uses ethanol and an electric motor to improve fuel economy. And yes, this is my car and it loves E15 and I love my fuel efficiency.

“Low oil prices, a slow to develop electric vehicle market, and continued low consumer confidence have all combined to challenge the assumptions in the original rulemaking,” said Daschle. “In short, we simply are not going to achieve the kinds of CO2 reductions hoped for without some new approaches. The good news is that automakers are clearly telling us they can do much more with conventional vehicles if they had higher octane, low carbon fuels. This allows them to make small bore, high compression engines requiring little change in consumer purchase and fueling but achieving greater efficiency and performance, all while reducing carbon emissions.”

The organization, with Daschle’s policy expertise and vast understanding of renewable energy, will work closely with the White House and appropriate federal agencies to encourage a regulatory agenda that promotes an orderly transition to the widespread availability of high octane fuels and ensure that the EPA and NHTSA include these fuels as part of the midterm evaluation.

Daschle said that this is a finite, mission specific effort and the individual members of the Alliance will continue to promote their various fuel programs and agendas as the Alliance work continues. The final determination by EPA as to whether the original standards are appropriate and achievable is due in 2018.

Alternative Vehicles, automotive, biofuels, Car Makers, Carbon Dioxide, EPA, Ethanol, Legislation