A group representing ethanol and air quality interests says the government’s emissions model regarding ethanol is flawed. The Urban Air Initiative filed documents with the U.S District Court in Washington, D.C., that show the model used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to measure tailpipe emissions inaccurately blames ethanol for increased air pollution, jeopardizing any hope for ethanol expansion.
The written arguments were filed as part of an ongoing legal challenge by the Urban Air Initiative, Energy Future Coalition, the State of Kansas and the State of Nebraska. These groups are asking that the EPA suspend its use of the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model based on faulty and incomplete data. States are required to use this model to demonstrate compliance with federal air quality standards and would effectively be prohibited from using more ethanol under this model.
The Urban Air Initiative hired a certified fuels modeling consulting firm to run the MOVES model by adding various levels of ethanol to gasoline. But due to faulty fuel blending in the model, ethanol blends are shown to increase most of the pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act, when in fact the opposite is true when using fuels currently marketed to consumers.
“The consultant confirmed our fears, which was that this model is biased against ethanol and blocks the goal of Urban Air Initiative to reduce toxic emissions and promote a cleaner fuel for today and future generations,” said UAI President Dave VanderGriend. “We have clear data to support that when simply adding ethanol to gasoline, a better fuel is created with fewer toxic emissions. However, the calculations in the MOVES model were primarily directed by oil interests and do not reflect what happens in the real world.”
The new data submitted to the court follows a series of steps the plaintiffs have taken during the past year, including a direct appeal to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to suspend the model.