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US ag- and ethanol groups echo call for higher-octane gasoline standard in fuel economy rule

In the United States (US), dozens of agricultural, ethanol, automotive, and manufacturing organizations are calling for higher octane in gasoline to help automakers increase vehicle fuel economy, reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), and improve local air quality.

A gasoline station in Georgia, US

In the United States (US), dozens of agricultural, ethanol, automotive, and manufacturing organizations are calling for higher octane in gasoline to help automakers increase vehicle fuel economy, reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), and improve local air quality.

In a letter dated July 11, 2021, to US President Joe Biden, signed by a range of agriculture and ethanol stakeholder interests, the signatories point to the role that higher-octane fuels could play in advancing the Administration’s climate and public health objectives.

This letter follows a letter to the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance (HOLCA) weeks earlier from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) that expressed support for high octane low carbon fuels in new and existing internal combustion engines…as soon as possible….. to facilitate the nation’s transition to a lower-carbon economy.

The letter to the President was signed by more than two dozen groups and called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address octane in the current forthcoming rulemaking on Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards (or the “SAFE-2 Rule”) now under review at the Office of Management and Budget.

According to HOLC Alliance Chairman Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader and longtime proponent of reducing toxic compounds used to increase octane, failure to address these issues in the SAFE-2 Rule would be a lost opportunity.

The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab and automaker studies have shown that ethanol has superior octane-boosting properties and is an environmentally safer substitute for oil-derived, benzene-based octane enhancers. The widespread use of higher octane, lower carbon fuels (98-100 RON) would enable automakers to offer more efficient higher-compression engines while reducing aromatics by 40 percent or more, said Tom Daschle.

The growing adoption of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines to improve fuel efficiency has increased emissions of the most dangerous ultrafine particles – a trend that would be reversed by the use of high octane low carbon fuels.

A recent General Motors (GM) study found that nearly 96 percent of the particulate matter (PM) emissions from gasoline are caused by the aromatics in the fuel. Even more concerning is the disproportionate impact of these emissions on communities of color.

The joint letter asks the President to urge EPA Administrator Regan to include a request for comment 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.

EPA has all the authority they need to regulate fuels under an amendment to the Clean Air Act that Senator Bob Dole and Senator Daschle offered in 1990, more than 30 years ago. Action on this danger to public health is long overdue, said Doug Durante, Executive Director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC).

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