Biofuel groups say EPA rule should include high octane standard

By Erin Voegele | July 13, 2021

Members of the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance and nearly two dozen other ag and biofuel groups sent a letter to President Biden on July 11 calling on the U.S. EPA to propose a higher octane gasoline standard in its upcoming rulemaking on light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards (SAFE-2 rule).

The SAFE-2 rule was delivered to the White House Office of Management and Budget on June 24 and is currently undergoing review. OMB review marks a final step before a proposed rule is released for public comment.

The upcoming rulemaking is expected to revise the SAFE Vehicles Rule finalized by the Trump administration in March 2020. That rule replaced CAFE and GHG emissions standards put in place by the Obama administration. The EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are set to further revise those CAFE and GHG emission standards as part of a review the agencies were directed to complete under an executive order issued by Biden on January 2021. That executive order directed all executive departments and federal agencies to immediately review, and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions taken during the Trump administration that conflict the national objectives outlined in the executive order, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.

In the letter, the biofuel and ag groups emphasize the importance of including a higher octane gasoline standard in the SAFE-2 Rule and ask Biden to urge EPA Administrator Michael Regan to request public comments on the role high-octane, low-carbon fuels can play in advancing the administration’s climate, environmental justice, public health, economic revitalization, and energy security objectives.

“High octane, low carbon fuels, including higher-level blends of ethanol, hold so much potential – and we should be doing everything we can to realize that potential,” said Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, a member of the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance. “These fuels improve vehicle and fuel efficiency, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, conserve oil, and strengthen energy security. That alone should be plenty of justification for the EPA to introduce a higher octane fuel standard. But the benefits go far beyond that – high octane fuels also drive economic growth and create new jobs in rural communities, slash pump prices for drivers, and open new markets for farmers. Given these many advantages, there’s really no reason the administration shouldn’t increase octane levels in fuel.”

Several groups are scheduled to meet with the OMB regarding the SAFE-2 Rule this month, including a meeting with the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance that was scheduled for the morning of July 13. The EPA is expected to release a notice of proposed rulemaking for public comment later this month, with a final rule scheduled to be issued in December.

In addition to NFU, members of the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance include the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, and Renewable Fuels Association. The letter is also signed by a variety of other biofuel and ag groups, including the Governors Biofuel Coalition, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Renewable Fuels Nebraska, the Urban Air Initiative and the American Coalition for Ethanol. A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the NFU website.