Urban Air Initiative Discredits Sierra Club’s Inaccurate Assumptions about Ethanol

Source: By Kim Trinchet, Urban Air Initative • Posted: Monday, April 9, 2018

Washington D.C., In an effort to rebut erroneous assumptions about ethanol’s health effects in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, the Urban Air Initiative submitted an amicus brief describing the health benefits of blending ethanol into gasoline.

The Sierra Club sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to provide Congress with an anti-backsliding study and a report to Congress on the environmental effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Both are required by law. But the Sierra Club mistakenly alleges that EPA’s failure to provide this information has resulted in respiratory health issues for one of its members in California. Specifically, the Sierra Club blames its member’s respiratory problems on the ethanol added to motor fuel.

Urban Air agrees with the Sierra Club that EPA should complete the anti-backsliding study and the report to Congress. However, these documents must reflect the best available science, which demonstrates that higher levels of ethanol blending reduce harmful emissions. Urban Air filed a motion to submit the amicus curiae (or friend of the court) brief to challenge Sierra Club’s erroneous assumptions about ethanol’s health effects and Sierra Club’s constitutional standing to bring this suit.

The Sierra Club’s complaint asserts that in some places, air pollution increased due to tailpipe emissions from fuel with high ethanol content. The Urban Air Initiative’s brief says this is not true.

“The research shows that when ethanol is simply added to gasoline, the fuel only gets better and the emissions are cleaner. Studies show that ethanol either lowers or has no effect on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. And ethanol blending significantly reduces particulate matter and its respiratory health effects,” said Urban Air Technical Director Steve Vander Griend.

“The Sierra Club should know better than to build a federal lawsuit on bad science and incorrect information,” Vander Griend said. “We should be encouraging the EPA to produce the required anti-backsliding study and report to Congress with the most recent and reliable science available. If the Sierra Club really wants to alleviate its members’ respiratory problems, it should promote ethanol blending, and combat the toxic aromatics in gasoline, like benzene and toluene, that ethanol displaces.”

Urban Air Initiative’s amicus brief asks the court to dismiss the Sierra Club’s lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction.