Ethanol Groups See Opportunity in EPA GHG Revision

Cindy Zimmerman

As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday the Revised Final Determination Regarding Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards, with the conclusion that “the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised.”

“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

Ethanol organizations say this opens up an opportunity for the high-octane renewable fuel to play a role in helping automakers reduce GHG emissions as the standards are revised later this year.

“For several years, Growth Energy has strongly emphasized the fact that fuels and engines are a system and that high-octane fuels – such as ethanol blends like E25-E30 – should be part of this discussion,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We have provided a wealth of data to show that mid-level ethanol blends can be used by automakers to produce smaller, more efficient engines that will help meet future vehicle standards.”

EPA notes in the final determination that, “…ethanol producers and agricultural organizations commented in support of high octane blends from clean sources as a way to enable GHG reducing technologies such as higher compression ratio engines. They provided information suggesting that mid-level (e.g., E30) high octane ethanol blends should be considered as part of the Mid-term Evaluation and that EPA should consider requiring that mid-level blends be made available at service stations.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says they are encouraged EPA Administrator Pruitt is seeking more information on the potential for high-octane blends.

“Some might argue today’s decision means EPA will eventually relax GHG standards allowing more gasoline use and tailpipe pollution, but not if the new standards pave the way for E25-30 high-octane fuel in future engines,” said Jennings. “Ethanol-enriched, high-octane fuel enables automakers to simultaneously reduce GHG emissions and improve fuel economy. We are confident E25-30 blends will be the most affordable way to thread that needle.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen adds, “For too long, our light-duty vehicle fuel economy and GHG emission regulations have focused exclusively on the vehicle. We have repeatedly encouraged EPA, NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to also consider the important impact of fuels on fuel economy and emissions…(H)igher octane fuel would unleash and enable a wide pallet of low-cost engine technologies that offer proven fuel efficiency and GHG emission improvements at a low cost for consumers.”

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