UAI to EPA: Proposed Rule Misinterprets the Law and Limits Access to Cleaner Burning Fuels

Washington, D.C. – February 22, 2017: The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) and several partners filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that disrupts the agency’s current rationale for controlling ethanol blends under the Clean Air Act, in response to the proposed Renewables Enhancement Growth Support Rule (REGS Rule).

The proposed rule would codify EPA’s position that fuel blends with more than 15% ethanol (E16-E83) may only be used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). Instead of accepting this environmentally harmful limitation on ethanol use, UAI argues that the Clean Air Act does not forbid the use of midlevel gasoline-ethanol blends in conventional vehicles, and that EPA’s interpretation to the contrary is unreasonable and therefore illegal.

In its comments, UAI takes on EPA’s longstanding assumption that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” (sub-sim) law allows the agency to control the concentration of ethanol in gasoline. UAI argues that EPA’s interpretation of the sub-sim law is inconsistent with the clear language of the law and must change.

“We believe these comments can be potentially game changing in the way the EPA regulates clean burning ethanol,” said UAI President Dave Vander Griend.

UAI points out that under the Clean Air Act, EPA bears the burden of showing that ethanol contributes to harmful emissions before it may limit the concentration of ethanol in fuel. The proposed rule reverses this burden of proof and subverts the intent of Congress by requiring fuel manufacturers to show that higher levels of ethanol would not harm emissions control systems. UAI asks that EPA correct its misinterpretation of the sub-sim law to recognize that mid-level ethanol blends may be legally used in all vehicles, barring any lawful regulation by EPA under the proper statutory authority.

“The REGS Rule as written would create additional obstacles for the ethanol industry, and would fall short of its purported goal of expanding the market for ethanol. That’s why we are taking an unchartered approach that disrupts current thinking.  If we’re successful, there would be less regulation and more free market access for clean burning ethanol,” Vander Griend said.

Several other organizations joined UAI’s comments. They include the Energy Future Coalition, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Glacial Lakes Energy, Siouxland Ethanol, ICM Inc., Nebraska Ethanol Board, National Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, and Wisconsin Farmers Union.

UAI believes these comments could be the foundation for major regulatory change that will allow more access for cleaner fuels. For more information, please visit FixOurFuel.com.