Study Shows Benefits of FFVs and Low Carbon Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

According to a newly released study from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), increased use of lower-carbon liquid fuels in light-duty vehicles would lead to larger and faster reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than EPA’s recently finalized EV-forcing tailpipe emissions standards.

The study, conducted by the non-profit Southwest Research Institute, found that, “Lowering the carbon intensity of liquid fuels can reduce CO2 emissions faster than [electric] vehicles can displace the existing fleet.” With a modest fuel carbon intensity reduction of just 1.25 percent per year nationwide, “the cumulative CO2 benefit from 2027 to 2032 would be 77 percent larger than required by the EPA standards.” The study notes that “this CO2 benefit could be achieved with a dramatically smaller on-road BEV fleet” than is anticipated by EPA under the new tailpipe standards.

“Not only are EPA’s tailpipe standards based on the false premise that battery electric vehicles somehow have zero GHG emissions impacts, but the agency also failed to consider alternative solutions—like lower carbon liquid fuels—that could achieve the same goals more quickly and cost-effectively,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “This study shows that a nationwide move to reduce carbon intensity by just 1.25 percent per year would almost double the carbon savings expected by EPA under the tailpipe regulation, while allowing more light-duty vehicle and fuel options for consumers. The study also provides startling projections of the liquid fuel demand destruction and surge in electricity consumption that could result from EPA and California vehicle standards.”

A second study by the research institute shows that if the existing fleet of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) used modestly larger amounts of E85, substantial GHG emissions reductions could be achieved. And, if those FFVs used only E85, GHG emissions would be reduced by up to 54 million metric tons per year—equivalent to almost 40 percent of EPA’s estimated GHG savings in 2035 from the new tailpipe standards.

“Right now there is no incentive in these tailpipe regulations for flex fuel vehicles,” said Cooper. “We’re just saying let’s think about how to better encourage auto makers to look at the full range of options out there for reducing emissions.”

Comment from Cooper.
RFA CEO Geoff Cooper 2:26

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