Nearly every facet of the ethanol business—from production at the facility to consumption in the vehicle—is influenced by federal and state regulations. Ethanol producers face a multitude of registration, reporting, recordkeeping, and compliance requirements, and the regulatory landscape is increasingly complex. Getting “into the weeds” on important regulatory and technical issues has always been a hallmark of the RFA, and we strive to ensure our member companies know exactly how their operations—and industry—will be affected by regulation. Below is a partial list of key regulations and resources, by agency, that influence the fuel ethanol industry daily.
The EPA is responsible for developing and implementing regulations for transportation fuels sold in the United States. The Agency also regulates operations at ethanol production facilities under air, water, and storage permitting programs, as well as spill prevention, risk management, and facility response programs.
- RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD (RFS)
Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- FEDERAL REFORMULATED GASOLINE (RFG)
The federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 established that cities with the worst smog pollution (ozone nonattainment areas) use reformulated gasoline (RFG) beginning in 1995. Today, about 30 percent of the nation’s gasoline is RFG. The EPA estimates that as many as 75 million people today breathe cleaner air because of RFG. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- E15 REGULATIONS
The EPA implements and enforces regulations related to the use of blends containing 15 percent ethanol in gasoline for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger cars, light-trucks and medium-duty vehicles. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- TIER 3 VEHICLE EMISSIONS & FUEL STANDARDS PROGRAM.
The Tier 3 program seeks to reduce the impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. The program considers the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated system, setting new vehicle emissions standards and lowering the sulfur content of gasoline beginning in 2017. Ethanol producers can download this RFA document to help comply with the rule: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Fuel Standards for Denatured Fuel Ethanol | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS & (CAFE) STANDARD
The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly develop and implement regulations governing vehicle fuel economy and GHG emissions. The requirements apply to light duty cars and trucks in model years 2012-2016 (first phase) and 2017-2025 (second phase). | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
The DOT regulates the safe transportation of ethanol and many other materials by truck and rail. More than 90 percent of the ethanol produced in the United States is shipped by train or truck.
- HAZARDOUS MATERIALS HIGHWAY SHIPMENT REGULATIONS
DOT regulates the safe transportation of ethanol and many other materials by truck and rail. More than 90 percent of the ethanol produced in the United States is shipped by train or truck.
- HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RAIL SHIPMENT REGULATIONS
DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) administers a safety program that oversees the movement of hazardous throughout the nation’s rail transportation system. Find RFA Best Practices for Rail Transport of Fuel Ethanol here | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- ENHANCED TANK CAR STANDARDS DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and FRA issued new standards for tank cars hauling ethanol and other materials in 2015. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
The Department of Treasury’s TTB protects the public by enforcing the provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act which provides for the regulation of those engaged in the production of alcohol. To ensure the integrity of the industry, a permit is required for those who engage in the business as a producer while preventing persons who are not likely to operate in accordance with the law from entering the trade and protecting consumers and the revenue.
Choosing how to permit your facility is first step. Alcohol produced at an Alcohol Fuel Plant (AFP) is restricted by law to “exclusively for fuel use.” This means that alcohol produced at an AFP may not be used on the premises, or removed from the premises, for any purpose except for use as fuel. AFP proprietors who wish to use alcohol produced at their plants for purposes other than fuel use must requalify their plants as regular distilled spirits plants (DSP’s). TTB regulations generally require that Alcohol Fuel Plants (fuel ethanol producers) add denaturant to fuel alcohol to render it unfit for human consumption, and thus not subject to beverage alcohol taxes. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
The Department of Health & Human Services’ FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, the food supply, cosmetics, and others.
Ethanol producers manufacture co-products as animal feed. A safe animal feed supply helps ensure healthy animals and people. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination of the food supply to preventing it. The law applies to human food as well as to food for animals. Ethanol plants shall be registered with the FDA and comply with good manufacturing practices and have written a Food Safety Plan with hazard analysis and, if necessary, preventive controls. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
The Department of Labor’s OSHA is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health regulations.
- RFA FUEL ETHANOL AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY REGULATORY COMPLIANCE GUIDE
At the request of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), this document was developed by ERI Solutions, Inc. of Colwich, KS to outline the general plant and employee safety regulatory compliance requirements for the fuel ethanol production industry. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- HEALTH AND SAFETY REGULATIONS
OSHA develops and implements standards for safe and healthful working conditions across many industries, including ethanol production. Ethanol plants must comply with a broad array of OSHA directives and safety measures. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- OSHA GREEN JOB HAZARDS: BIOFUELS
As demand for low-carbon impact, domestically sourced fuels has increased, biofuels have become a fast-growing part of the energy sector. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- THE IMPACT OF ACCIDENTAL ETHANOL RELEASES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
On Feb. 4, two engines and 14 rail cars carrying ethanol derailed on a stretch of track near Dubuque, Iowa, operated by Canadian Pacific. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >
- FTC RULE FOR AUTOMOBILE FUEL RATINGS, CERTIFICATION & POSTING
Rules for Automotive Fuel Ratings, Certification and Posting also known as the Fuel Rating Rule. The rule covers the sale and transfer of liquid automotive fuels and determines the ratings on the retail pump labels, how octane levels are calculated and helps to inform consumers about proper fuel for their vehicles. If you are a fuel refiner, importer, producer, distributor, or retailer of liquid automotive fuel, you must comply with the Rule’s rating determination, certification, posting, and recordkeeping requirements. | CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >