Jun 28, 2012  |  Today's News

Illinois Corn works towards increased market opportunity for ethanol every day, knowing that a growing ethanol market means increased profitability for Illinois farmers.  Efforts to increase the number of Flex Fuel Vehicles on the roadways are one means to move more ethanol through the marketplace.  Offering ethanol a level playing field compared to other fuel options is another.

To that end, a coalition of rural energy interests says proposed new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards could cap and constrain U.S. biofuel production, posing a risk to the nation’s rural and energy economy.

In comments filed today with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the organizations say the proposed rule establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and CAFE standards for 2017 and later model-year, light-duty vehicles “does not sufficiently incentivize the production of FFVs (flex fuel vehicles),” and “does not adequately value the greenhouse gas reduction potential of biofuels.”

Seeking changes to the proposed rule, the groups argue that “[t]ogether, these oversights place the rule in conflict with other established national priorities, policies, and legislation,” including the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), “while ignoring the economic, public health, and environmental benefits that can only be achieved through increased biofuel usage.”

The comments were submitted by the 25x’25 Alliance, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Seed Trade Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union and the National Sorghum Producers.

The groups make the case that “[T]he continued production of flexible fuel vehicles and the advancement of a range of biofuels into the market are critical to expanding renewable fuel use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing air quality.”

There are currently 12 million FFVs operating on American roadways and the use of midlevel ethanol blends and E85 in FFVs is a cost-effective and efficient way to help meet the federal agencies’ ambitious standards for improving tailpipe emissions through biofuels utilization, the organizations state.

“Ethanol and other advanced biofuels such as biobutanol facilitate CO2 emission reductions both within the vehicle, and, more importantly, throughout its production and combustion life cycle,” the groups assert in their comments.

“Furthermore, increased biofuel use contributes to public health,” the groups state. “Higher ethanol blends reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM 2.5 and ultrafine particles) resulting from the burning of aromatic hydrocarbons like benzene, toluene, and xylene found in conventional fuels.”

The groups contend that despite the many benefits of biofuels, including the enhancement of U.S, national energy security, the proposed rule does not ensure they will be realized.

“The proposed rule effectively eliminates statutory incentives intended to promote their use,” according to the comments. “Moreover, it appears to pick favorites by providing much more generous credits to other ‘advanced vehicle technologies,’ such as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

Changes to the rule proposed by the farm energy groups to EPA and NHTSA include addressing the lack of parity for FFVs by providing a level playing field for each vehicle technology, and recognizing the “lifecycle” CO2 reductions provided by ethanol.