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Senators Introduce Bill to Expand Use of High-Octane Fuels Including Ethanol

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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A group of senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would expand the use of high-octane fuels such as ethanol. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- With gasoline prices still at historically high levels, a group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would expand demand for ethanol by establishing high-octane certification test fuels containing 20% to 30% ethanol and requiring automobile manufacturers to design and warranty their vehicles to use the fuels beginning in 2026.

The Next Generation Fuels Act also includes a low-carbon requirement, specifying that the source of the octane boost must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 40% compared to a 2021 gasoline baseline. That would be determined by using the U.S. Department of Energy's GREET model. The legislation would require the development fuels with the research octane number, or RON, of 95 and 98.

The bill was introduced by Iowa Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

The House version of the bill was introduced in August 2021 and requires the EPA to create the new RON of 95 and 98 after 2031. In addition, the House bill extends incentives for flexible-fuel vehicles and requires the EPA to make updates to biofuels' greenhouse gas emissions models.

Although high-octane fuels such as ethanol also are low carbon, when it comes to decarbonizing the transportation fuel sector the Biden administration has directed significant federal resources toward expanding the use of electric vehicles while high-octane fuels have received little attention.

Grassley said in a statement that especially rural families have faced "budget uncertainty" with "unstable" gas prices.

"The Next Generation Fuels Act would gradually ramp up the use of homegrown ethanol at gas stations across the country, making Americans less reliant on foreign oil and less vulnerable to the anti-competitive tactics of OPEC," he said.

Ernst said in a statement the legislation was a "no-brainer" that would turn to "our own abundant domestic production right here in the U.S., including clean, homegrown biofuel."

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a statement the senators "recognize that Americans will continue to rely on liquid fuels and internal combustion engines for decades to come."

Cooper said this summer's "geopolitical instability" and record-high gas prices and "more frequent climate disasters" underscore the need for "real and immediate energy solutions" for American families.

National Farmers Union President Rod Larew said in a statement the "important legislation supports usage of higher-level blends of ethanol, which NFU has long supported. Higher-level blends of ethanol, like E30, is good for farmers, good for the planet and good for the pocketbooks of Americans."

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the senate legislation recognizes ethanol is the "only high-performance renewable fuel ready to help decarbonize cars on the road today."

Read more on DTN:

"Governors' Biofuels Coalition Asks Biden Administration to Consider Role of High-Octane Fuels,"…

"Ag, Ethanol, Enviro Groups Press Biden on High-Octane Gasoline Standard,"…

Todd Neeley can be reached at

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