Urban Air Initiative Calls on EPA to Revise Emissions Model in Wake of E-Mail Revelations

Washington D.C., October 26, 2016:  Emails from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request reveal that the Agency allowed test fuels to be developed that ignored positive emissions from ethanol blends and worked with the oil industry in selectively testing fuels that favored petroleum.

Urban Air Initiative (UAI) President Dave VanderGriend said this is a continuation of a disturbing trend of the EPA and the petroleum industry in failing to recognize a conflict of interest.

According to VanderGriend, the FOIA is part of a series of requests UAI has submitted.  “In our effort to provide a cleaner, healthier fuel we needed to understand where EPA was getting its information,” he said.

Emails between the EPA and the oil industry show that EPA asked oil industry employees what test fuels they would “prefer to see tested” and then revised the test fuels in response to their input. The EPA also threw out three test fuels after preliminary results showed that ethanol lowered emissions of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants and otherwise altered its slate of test fuels to emphasize ethanol effects.

The Freedom of Information Act request was submitted by UAI Counsel Boyden Gray & Associates. Through emails and other internal documents received, UAI discovered that the EPA relied heavily on oil industry employees from Chevron and BP to design the test fuels in a large-scale fuel effects study known as the EPAct study.  The revelation of this collusion is important because the EPA used the results of the EPAct study to update its vehicular emissions model, MOVES2014.

As a result of the oil industry’s influence, the model reports that ethanol increases emissions of many pollutants, even though other studies have demonstrated the opposite. Through ongoing litigation in U.S. District Court, UAI calls on the EPA to revise its emissions model.

“We know ethanol blends can improve fuel quality by replacing some of the most harmful components in gasoline.  But to ask the producers of gasoline to fairly assess fuels that represent competition is just plain wrong,” VanderGriend said.

UAI recently submitted comments to the EPA providing detailed information on how the auto industry can meet aggressive new mileage and emission standards with higher octane fuels. “Ethanol has the highest octane value of any blending component currently available but if this flawed model is not corrected we would miss the opportunity to get these fuels into the market and further protect public health.”