The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should focus on opening pathways for all low-carbon fuels and technologies, such as ethanol, as it seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the National Corn Growers Association explained to EPA in comments submitted today.
The agency’s written comments come as EPA hears from stakeholders on its proposed rule to set more stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles for model year 2023 to 2026. Unfortunately, the role that higher blends of low-carbon ethanol can play in meeting new standards was conspicuously absent from EPA’s proposal.
“EPA missed an opportunity in this proposal to broaden the solutions that reduce transportation emissions by beginning a transition to low-carbon, high-octane fuels to advance climate, air quality and environmental justice goals with these and future standards,” NCGA President John Linder stated in the comments. “Furthermore, alternative fuel vehicles such as flex-fuel vehicles, which have the potential to reach zero emissions, should be equitably incentivized through vehicle standards rules.”
Higher octane fuel is an essential tool for automakers to meet revised standards, but higher octane must also be clean octane to meet emission reduction goals, Linder noted.
“For automakers to use new technologies and enhanced engines to meet stringent standards, they need updated fuel that enables new vehicles and fuels to work as a system to enhance GHG reductions,” he said. “Clean octane from today’s ethanol is 50% lower in GHG emissions than gasoline and replaces the most harmful hydrocarbon aromatics to improve air quality and prevent adverse health impacts.”
EPA is expected to finalize revised vehicle standards later this year or early next year.
NCGA has also pursued legislation in Congress that would couple a higher-octane fuel standard with low-carbon ethanol to lower greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, Rep. Cheri Bustos (I.L.) reintroduced the Next Generation Fuels Act (H.R. 5089) this summer. The bill would take advantage of higher ethanol blends to meet low-carbon, high-octane standards for fuels and vehicles.