EPA Set to Hand Oil Another Victory at Ethanol’s Expense

Source: By Kim Trinchet, Urban Air • Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Washington, D.C., May 21, 2018:  A proposed rule to make ethanol blends above 15% illegal in anything other than flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) is a potential death blow to the ethanol industry according to the Urban Air Initiative. This coincidently comes at a time when auto manufacturers are phasing out FFVs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the proposed REGS rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. A final rule is expected by November. If finalized, it would ban E16 and higher blends and would ensure that E15 is the ceiling until new certification fuel or sub-sim waiver is granted. The REGS Rule or Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule would codify a regulation based on EPA’s misinterpretation of a Clean Air Act provision.

Urban Air President David VanderGriend called the proposed rule yet another example of the EPA representing petroleum interests over public interest and using its unchecked rulemaking authority to suppress the ethanol industry.

UAI filed extensive comments on the REGS rule when initially introduced by the Obama Administration. In those comments, UAI argued that as of 2017, ethanol was a fuel additive already being utilized in certification. Therefore, the ethanol concentration of market fuel is no longer controlled by the sub-sim law, which only controls fuels and fuel additives that are not substantially similar what’s utilized in the certification of new vehicles. Moreover, higher ethanol blends reduce toxic compounds used to enhance octane and offer substantial savings to consumers at the pump.

“It absolutely defies logic to tell the ethanol industry that this is any kind of growth or stimulus when in fact it would cap growth and limit value,” said VanderGriend. At a time when the auto industry is supporting higher blends to provide them with much needed octane, and our own Department of Energy and National Labs have endorsed blends from 20-40%, this is nothing more than a market guarantee and giveaway to the petroleum industry.”

UAI and others note that EPA’s smokescreen of claiming this will facilitate the Flex Fuel Vehicle market is adding insult to injury. VanderGriend went on to point out that EPA has effectively killed the FFV market by phasing out incentives to automakers that they used to offset EPA certification requirements.

“We do not need FFVs to utilize higher blends of ethanol. We are demonstrating higher blends all over the country and another EPA fallacy is to suggest the burden of proof is on the ethanol industry to show these fuels do not increase emissions when they have no basis to suggest they do,” said VanderGriend.

“If this Administration considers itself a friend to domestically produced biofuels, I would hate to see what an enemy looks like. This was an Obama proposal, that in and of itself should have been cause for scrapping it. But somehow EPA found the time to send off for review this ill-advised rule and yet have not addressed the critical RVP issue.”

UAI, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the National Farmers Union, and several other groups were on the comments to EPA when the rule was first introduced and will consider a legal challenge if finalized.