WASHINGTON – In the final Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today relaxed fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2021-2026 passenger vehicles.
When the rule was initially proposed a year and a half ago, National Farmers Union (NFU) urged EPA to incorporate greater access mid-level ethanol blends as a way to boost octane and increase vehicle efficiency. Despite widespread support from automakers and retailers for a higher minimum octane level for gasoline, the agency ultimately decided against the change. Additionally, EPA declined to adopt new incentives for the production of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) because such incentives were deemed outside the scope of the rulemaking.
NFU President Rob Larew issued the following statement in response to the rule:
“This news could not come at a worse time for American farmers and rural communities. Over the last several years, demand for billions of gallons of homegrown biofuels has been obliterated by the misappropriation of small refinery exemptions to oil corporations. And now a global pandemic has decreased demand further, bringing ethanol prices down to a record low. As a result, some ethanol plants stopped buying corn, while others have halted production altogether, costing family farmers millions of dollars and rural communities hundreds of good jobs. In the midst of these difficulties, the EPA’s lack of support for the American biofuels industry is a huge disappointment.
“But farmers aren’t the only losers here. Mid-level blends of ethanol offer a variety of benefits, including air emissions reductions, improved vehicle efficiency, and greater energy security. By failing to support such blends in the final rule, the EPA is doing a great disservice to American drivers as well as undermining efforts to improve air quality and mitigate climate change.“