Kansas A.G. Schmidt asks for federal court review of EPA ethanol requirement

Source: By Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal • Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Action comes at the behest of association of ethanol processors

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked a federal court to review a new EPA regulation he says will discourage ethanol use.  THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked a federal court to review a new EPA regulation he says will discourage ethanol use.

The legal action comes at the behest of a state association of ethanol processors.

Schmidt argues the EPA implemented its 2014 edition of the Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) — which helps estimate pollution from cars and trucks — without allowing states to comment or review the changes. The attorney general also says an EPA-commissioned fuel study to develop MOVES used a flawed methodology.

“Ethanol production is an important industry for Kansas and grain agriculture specifically,” Schmidt said in a statement. “EPA’s requirement that states use this faulty model was unlawfully adopted without notice and opportunity for comment. This is an example of the EPA imposing its will on the states rather than working cooperatively toward the shared goal of cleaner air. We are asking that this model be rejected and replaced with a model that more accurately reflects the true emission effects of ethanol.”

The EPA, in a statement to The Topeka Capital-Journal, said it hadn’t yet received the legal complaint and couldn’t comment on it. But it also defended MOVES.

“The fuel effects study was subjected to review and comment by many technical experts external to EPA during its design, and it underwent a rigorous independent peer review after data analysis was completed. We are confident that the results of the fuel effects study and its application in MOVES2014 represent the best fuel effects modeling information available,” the statement said.

Schmidt filed a request for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 5, spokeswoman Jennifer Rapp said. Schmidt is being joined in the request by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the Energy Future Coalition and the Urban Air Initiative.

Rapp provided a copy of a near-final version of the review petition Schmidt filed. The court filing is short and doesn’t include arguments against MOVES, but only asks for review.

The Kansas Association of Ethanol Producers, which asked Schmidt to request a review, applauded the filing. The organization says the change to MOVES would discourage the use of ethanol and harm Kansas corn and sorghum producers.

The controversy over MOVES gained steam when a report by the Society of Automotive Engineers was published in early November that the American Coalition for Ethanol says shows the EPA has a bias in favor of oil and against ethanol in its model.

The coalition faults the EPA for choosing so-called “match-blending” over “splash blending” in the MOVES model. Most U.S. gasoline (E10) is manufactured using splash blending, which adds ethanol to gasoline. The coalition says match-blending, however, allows oil companies to use carcinogenic hydrocarbons, meaning however much ethanol is used, the resulting fuel will produce more tailpipe pollution.