Kan., Neb. AGs join fight against EPA ethanol model 

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Attorneys general of two Midwestern states are joining pro-biofuel groups in complaints that a recent vehicular emissions model unfairly characterizes ethanol’s impact on air quality.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) filed a petition Friday with the Energy Future Coalition and the Urban Air Initiative to challenge U.S. EPA’s recent update of the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES), a computer model to measure levels of aromatic hydrocarbons, particulate matter, ozone and other pollutants from vehicles. States can use the model to devise state implementation plans for compliance with the Clean Air Act.

“Once again, EPA is using flawed science to burden Nebraska,” said Bruning in a statement. “I stand with Nebraska Corn Farmers and Ethanol Producers in opposing this unlawful attack on our agricultural industry.”

The petition was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and will be available online later this week.

The underlying assumptions about ethanol in the model are flawed and show higher emissions levels than the reality, wrote the Energy Future Coalition and the Urban Air Institute in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in October. Ethanol is “unfairly and incorrectly blamed” for an increase in aromatic hydrocarbons, according to the letter (E&ENews PM, Oct. 23). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are potential carcinogens that have been shown to cause tumors, birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

The groups say EPA derived the assumptions in the model from a study done by the Coordinating Research Council, a nonprofit backed by automotive companies. They encouraged the agency to submit the study for peer review by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.