Governors urge EPA, OMB to address octane in upcoming SAFE rule

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Governors Biofuels’ Coalition on July 23 sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Shalanda Young, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, urging the Biden administration to include a higher octane gasoline standard in its upcoming rulemaking on light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards (SAFE-2 rule).

The SAFE-2 rule was delivered to the White House Office of Management and Budget on June 24 and is currently undergoing review. OMB review marks a final step before a proposed rule is released for public comment.

The upcoming rulemaking is expected to revise the SAFE Vehicles Rule finalized by the Trump administration in March 2020. That rule replaced CAFE and GHG emissions standards put in place by the Obama administration. The EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are set to further revise those CAFE and GHG emission standards as part of a review the agencies were directed to complete under an executive order issued by Biden on January 2021. That executive order directed all executive departments and federal agencies to immediately review, and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions taken during the Trump administration that conflict the national objectives outlined in the executive order, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.

In the letter, members of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition discuss the benefits of ethanol and the future of liquid fuels.

“Despite consumer trends toward hybrid and electric vehicles, the reality is that Americans will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades to come,” they wrote. “The Administration should pursue a balanced approach to fuel economy standards that acknowledges this reality and provides greater market access for home-grown energy sources with a proven track record of reducing emissions while supporting American jobs. High-octane domestic biofuels like ethanol provide an opportunity to significantly reduce GHGs and improve air quality today and into the future.

“Over the years, we have seen firsthand how the ethanol industry has transformed and revived rural communities while reducing harmful emissions. A revised SAFE rule that provides an expanded market for high-octane ethanol is a means to reduce GHGs and harmful air emissions, provide much needed economic stability in rural America and provide countless health and economic benefits to all Americans.

“Without question, higher octane allows automakers to increase engine efficiency and achieve the objectives of the proposed SAFE rule,” the governors continued. “The use of low carbon fuels such as ethanol will ensure that octane does not come from carcinogenetic aromatics that release fine particulate emissions associated with respiratory diseases that affect all Americans, especially vulnerable populations and those living in urban areas. The adoption of a revised SAFE rule that does not significantly reduce gasoline aromatics will be a missed opportunity to reduce fine particle pollution while maintaining the healthy and vibrancy of our rural communities.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded form the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition website.