Farm groups file competing lawsuits against EPA over electric vehicles

Source: By Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report • Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Two coalitions of farm groups have filed what appear to be competing lawsuits in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals against the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules that they say give electric vehicles an advantage over gasoline vehicles that use biofuels.

The Renewable Fuels Association and National Farmers Union filed a lawsuit Monday in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the EPA’s recently finalized light- and medium-duty vehicle emissions standards.

That RFA-NFU lawsuit followed another suit filed June 13 by the American Petroleum Institute, the National Corn Growers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation and a group of six auto dealers representing 16 brands and collectively operating dozens of dealerships in major markets across the country, also challenging EPA’s light-duty and medium-duty vehicle emissions standards for model years 2027-2032.

RFA and NFU said they “filed the lawsuit separately from other challenges to ensure that ethanol producers and farmers have a strong and independent voice in the proceedings, as the EPA regulation presents numerous issues and challenges unique to the ethanol industry and the farmers who grow renewable fuel feedstocks.”

The two coalitions appeared to make the same basic point that EPA is giving an advantage to electric vehicles.

But Geoff Cooper, the president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said in an email Monday, “We expect some of our arguments will be a bit different and more nuanced, as not all liquid fuels have the same carbon impacts or will be impacted in the same way by EPA’s rules.”

“We expect to focus on issues within the EPA regulations that specifically impact ethanol producers and the farmers who supply our industry, such as EPA’s failure to account for the carbon reduction benefits of high-octane mid-level ethanol blends, flex fuels like E85, and flex fuel vehicles.”


And Monday API, NCGA, Farm Bureau and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a separate lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA’s heavy-duty (HD) vehicle emissions standards for model years (MY) 2027-2032.

“Today, we are standing up for consumers who rely on trucks to deliver the goods they use every single day,” said API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers.

“The EPA is forcing a switch to technology that simply does not presently exist for these kinds of vehicles — and even if it were someday possible, it will almost certainly have consequences for your average American. This is sadly yet another example of this administration pushing unpopular policy mandates that lack statutory authority, and we look forward to holding them accountable in court.”

“Small business truckers make up 96% of trucking and could be regulated out of existence if the EPA’s unworkable heavy-duty rule comes into effect,” said Todd Spencer, president, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“This rule would devastate the reliability of America’s supply chain and ultimately increase costs for consumers. Mom and pop trucking businesses would be suffocated by the sheer cost and operational challenges of effectively mandating zero emission trucks, but this administration appears intent on forcing through its deluge of misguided environmental mandates.

“As the voice of over 150,000 small-business truckers, we owe it to our members and every small-business trucker in America to leave no stone unturned in fighting these radical environmental policies,” Spencer said.

“EPA has tried to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing climate change by prioritizing electric vehicles over other climate remedies like corn ethanol,” said Minnesota farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle.

“But while it could take decades to get enough electric vehicles on the road to make a dent in GHG emissions, lower carbon fuels such as ethanol are critical and effective climate tools that are available now. Ethanol is not only critical in the climate fight, but it also saves consumers money at the pump while benefiting America’s rural economies. We look forward to making this case in court.”

“Farmers rely on heavy-duty trucks to transport livestock long distances, and they choose the most efficient routes to ensure the animals in their care remain on the vehicle for as little time as possible,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Unfortunately, heavy-duty vehicles that are powered by batteries have short ranges and require hours to charge. Impractical regulations will extend the amount of time on the road, putting the health and safety of drivers and livestock at risk if they need to stop for long periods of time to charge.”