Court ruling disappointing, but leaves door open for mid-level ethanol blends

Source: By Kim Trinchet, Urban Air Initiative • Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) was disappointed to learn yesterday that the US Court of Appeals denied a petition by biofuel interests to review an EPA rule that requires fuels to be “commercially available” before automakers can certify vehicles on such fuels.

However, the EPA did make some concessions that UAI believes will eventually open the door to higher blend test fuels.

The Energy Future Coalition and other biofuel interests challenged the EPA to allow the certification of vehicles with an E30 test fuel. Test fuels are used to provide auto manufactures consistency when testing emissions, efficiency, and overall driving performance. The legal petition cited a range of health, environmental, and performance benefits that come from a fuel blend like E30.

UAI supplied technical data to support this petition because we believe it’s a path to create a cleaner fuel for the public, which is why the court’s decision is disappointing.

“At the heart of this issue is the fact that the EPA is already failing to meet its own requirements by using test fuels that are not commercially available. What we call consumer fuels, which is what you put in your tank, are significantly different from the carefully controlled fuels in EPA laboratories. These test fuels are often blended to make ethanol look bad,” said UAI Technical Director Steve VanderGriend

“Adding insult to injury, EPA was supported by the petroleum industry throughout this process. In fact, the American Petroleum Institute intervened on behalf of EPA to challenge this petition. We know E30 can provide significant health, environmental, and performance benefits, yet the EPA continues to block market access,” said VanderGriend.

On a positive note, this petition could still  help create a mid-level ethanol blend test fuel like E30. That’s because the EPA has admitted it can allow automakers to use test fuels before they are commercially available. UAI believes automakers will try this route as they work to create more efficient vehicles.

And once mid-level ethanol blends are more readily available, the air will be cleaner, Americans will be healthier, and consumers will have more choice at the pump.