The Importance of the Next Generation Fuels Act

  • Tuesday, 09 May 2023 09:44

Ethanol Producer Magazine

by Geoff Cooper

May 8, 2023

In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed regulation for what it calls “Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles.” While that title sounds official and impressive, let’s call the proposed regulation what it really is: an electric vehicle mandate. Why? Because unless automakers dramatically increase their production of EVs in the years ahead, they’ll have no way of complying with EPA’s ambitious proposed standards. EPA itself expects that, under the regulations, “EVs could account for 67% of new light-duty vehicle sales” by 2032.

Indeed, John Bozzella, head of the national trade association representing automakers, called EPA’s proposal “aggressive by any measure” and labeled the agency’s EV goals as “very high.” Rather than plunging headlong into the EV abyss, Bozzella recommended that “EPA and the petroleum industry should act quickly to concurrently lower the carbon intensity of liquid fuels. This will produce higher and faster returns by reducing emissions from not only new gas vehicles (including plug-in hybrid EVs), but from the millions of light-duty gas vehicles currently on the road."

We wholeheartedly agree.

And that’s why policymakers should be considering technology-neutral approaches for reducing carbon emissions instead of pursuing vehicle mandates that put all of our eggs into one basket. A smarter approach to carbon policy would be to set the emissions reduction goal, then let the marketplace determine the lowest-cost and most efficient ways of meeting that standard.

That’s exactly what the Next Generation Fuels Act would do.

This bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate in late March by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and the following week in the House by Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Angie Craig (D-MN), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Nikki Budzinski (D-IL) and 16 others.

If signed into law, this bill would require more efficient high-octane, lower-carbon fuels beginning in 2028. The bill doesn’t dictate how regulated parties must achieve the higher octane and lower carbon requirements; it doesn’t require the use of a specific fuel or vehicle. Rather, it simply sets the standard for high octane (95 RON ramping up to 98 RON) and low carbon (the source of the octane boost must reduce GHG emissions by 40% compared to today’s gasoline), opens the marketplace to a broad array of high-octane, low-carbon sources by removing arcane regulatory barriers, then lets the market work its magic.The reintroduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act in both the House and Senate gives liquid fuels the opportunity to increase fuel efficiency while reducing tailpipe emissions, something that the Biden Administration is acutely focused on at this time. This bill would also keep our industry moving forward in pursuing our members’ commitment to a net-zero-carbon future and would demonstrate that there are alternatives to an all-EV future in the form of lower-cost, lower-emitting renewable liquid fuels that are ready to deploy in increased amounts today.  RFA strongly supports the Next Generation Fuels Act, and we thank the many visionary leaders in Congress who support this landmark legislation. We look forward to working with clean fuel supporters in both chambers of Congress—and both political parties—to turn this bold vision into a reality.

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