8 Things Ethanol Groups Want From EPA on GHG Emissions Standards

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — When EPA released a proposal to revise light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards earlier this year, ethanol interests were disappointed to see high-octane fuels were not part of the equation.High-octane fuels like ethanol have been found to have cleaner tailpipe emissions and provide a potentially large market for corn producers who supply ethanol plants.

A number of officials from three ethanol groups testified before the EPA via Zoom hearing on Wednesday, making the case for high-octane fuels to be included in the current rulemaking.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper, Chris Bliley, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, Growth Energy, and Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, requested a number of actions from EPA on the rule.

Here are eight actions ethanol groups asked EPA to take:

-To provide a statement in the final rule of EPA’s intent to consider adopting a high-octane fuel standard as part of a future rulemaking.

-Take action to encourage the use of E15 and E85 in the current vehicle fleet.

-To approve a high-octane, midlevel ethanol fuel for vehicle certification such as the 98 to 100 research octane number, or E25 to E30.-Establish Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2021, 2022 and beyond to encourage the use of low-carbon biofuels.

-To provide a solution to Reid vapor pressure on ethanol blends above E10, after a court recently ruled the EPA’s rulemaking allowing year-round E15 sales was unlawful.

-Adopt the latest Department of Energy GREET model on the lifecycle GHG emissions of ethanol and other transportation fuels.

-Establish a technology-neutral approach to provide automakers with incentives to produce flexible-fuel vehicles and vehicles designed to achieve optimal efficiency and reduced emissions on high-octane ethanol blends.

Jennings told EPA the focus on expanding electric-vehicle availability is a missed opportunity to reduce emissions. The Biden administration has been taking a number of steps to expand EV availability.

“Instead, EPA impractically suggests vehicle greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced merely by plugging more cars into the grid, without much attention to how the electricity powering those cars is generated,” he said in written comments.

“I will be the first to admit that when electric vehicles are actually charged by low-carbon power sources, they could play a role in reducing GHG emissions, but EVs comprise just 2% of all light-duty vehicles on the road today and most of them are hybrid models that also operate on liquid fuels. In other words, even as EV sales increase, Americans will continue to rely on billions upon billions of gallons of liquid fuels for decades to come.”

Cooper said during the hearing there still was a place for the Renewable Fuel Standard in reducing GHG emissions.

“RFA believes well-designed fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards can work in tandem with programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption, improve public health, and combat climate change,” he said.

“If our nation is to reach its goal of net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century, we’ll need both cleaner, more-efficient cars and cleaner, more-efficient fuels. Unfortunately, EPA’s proposal fails to recognize that the fuels we put into our engines can have as much — or more — impact on fuel economy and GHG emissions as the engine technologies themselves.

“In other words, the proposed rule counts on broad deployment of high-compression ratio engines that will require high-octane fuel but does nothing to ensure those high-octane fuels will actually be produced and available in the marketplace.”

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com