The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today encouraged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to strongly consider the role of high-octane fuels and higher compression ratio engines as the agencies embark on a new rulemaking to establish revised fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles in the 2022-2025 timeframe. The upcoming rulemaking for adjusted 2022-2025 standards will come in the wake of today’s announcement that EPA has finished the statutorily-directed “midterm evaluation” of the standards. EPA has concluded that the existing 2022-2025 standards “may be too stringent.”

In today’s announcement, EPA said it “received additional data and assessments” in response to the agency’s solicitation for more information on the appropriateness of the 2022-2025 standards. Today’s notice specifically mentioned information received on the promising role of ethanol-based high octane fuels in helping automakers meet future fuel economy and emissions standards. The agency wrote, “…ethanol producers and agricultural organizations commented in support of high octane blends from clean sources as a way to enable GHG reducing technologies such as higher compression ratio engines. They provided information suggesting that mid-level (e.g., E30) high octane ethanol blends should be considered as part of the Mid-term Evaluation and that EPA should consider requiring that mid-level blends be made available at service stations.” RFA was among the groups that provided substantive comments and detailed technical reports to EPA on the benefits of high octane fuel blends.

Commenting on EPA’s announcement today that the midterm evaluation has been completed and that a new rulemaking will soon begin, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen offered the following statement: “For too long, our light-duty vehicle fuel economy and GHG emission regulations have focused exclusively on the vehicle. We have repeatedly encouraged EPA, NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to also consider the important impact of fuels on fuel economy and emissions. Fuels and engines work as integrated systems, and we have provided mounds of evidence that high-octane, low-carbon ethanol blends in optimized engines would be the lowest-cost means of achieving compliance with future fuel economy standards. We are glad to see EPA took notice of that information, and we again urge EPA and NHTSA to use the upcoming rulemaking to establish the roadmap to broad commercialization of high-octane fuels in optimized internal combustion engines. As we pointed out in previous submissions to the agencies, higher octane fuel would unleash and enable a wide pallet of low-cost engine technologies that offer proven fuel efficiency and GHG emission improvements at a low cost for consumers.”