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RFA: Final Fuel Economy Rule a Missed Opportunity for High-Octane, Low-Carbon Fuels

March 31, 2020

EPA, Regulatory, Technical


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation issued final regulations for 2021-2026 vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the final rule ignores the input of automakers, ethanol producers, farmers, environmental groups, retailers and others who called on the agencies to establish a pathway in the rule for transitioning to high-octane low carbon liquid fuels. In response to hundreds of comments calling for the inclusion of high octane fuels as a tool to help automakers meet more stringent fuel economy and emissions requirements, EPA said only that “establishing a higher minimum octane for gasoline is a complex undertaking” and “the present rulemaking is not the appropriate vehicle to set octane levels.”


In addition, EPA said in the final rule it “also is declining to adopt new incentives for flex-fueled vehicles (FFVs) (vehicles designed to operate on gasoline or E85 or a mixture), as some commenters suggested.” The agency said FFV incentives are “outside the scope” of the vehicle fuel economy rule, despite the fact that the rule includes incentives for natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, and other alternative fuel vehicles. As an example, EPA’s rule assumes that electric vehicles have no “upstream” greenhouse gas emissions related to their use; in other words, the agency completely ignores emissions related to producing electricity from coal, natural gas, and other sources and distributing the electricity to the vehicle. This results in a significant fuel economy “credit” for electric vehicles that is not based on any real emissions reduction.


Commenting on the release of the final rule, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement:

“EPA’s final rule is yet another missed opportunity to bring higher-octane, lower-carbon fuels to the market and enable more efficient internal combustion engine technologies. Of all the stakeholders who provided input to EPA on the topic of octane, only the oil industry voiced opposition to EPA using its authority to set standards for higher-octane fuels. Once again, EPA has sided with the oil industry over automakers, biofuel producers, farmers, environmental advocates, and consumers. This rule should have established the roadmap toward cleaner, more efficient, more affordable liquid fuels for our nation’s consumers. Instead, it sends our nation’s vehicles and fuels down yet another pothole-filled road to ruin.”


Ken Colombini