States, Industry Oppose Emissions Rule

States, Ag, Renewable Fuels Industry Stand Against EPA Emissions Rule That Favors Electric Vehicles

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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This E85 and electric hybrid car was displayed by the Renewable Fuels Association at various conferences this year. An EPA proposal for emission standards, however, bypasses low-carbon liquid fuels such as ethanol to drive more sales of electric vehicles during the next 10 years. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Pressure is increasing on the Biden administration to draw back on a proposed vehicle-emissions rule that ag groups and others say is a de facto ban on internal combustion engines, with states, agriculture, biofuels, petroleum and other business groups beginning a full-court press this month to oppose the EPA proposal.

EPA's proposal sets rules to limit greenhouse gas and other emissions from all vehicles beginning in 2027, essentially requiring automobile companies and consumers to adopt electric-vehicle technology.

On Tuesday, more than 100 agriculture, petroleum and other industry groups urged President Joe Biden in a letter to consider all options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

The groups ask Biden to consider several liquid-fuel alternatives and engine technologies to meet the standards.

"Improved crop yield, innovative biofuel and refined product processing and manufacturing efficiency tied with carbon capture each represent promising advancements for current liquid and gaseous fuels to continue to accelerate emissions reductions," the groups said in the letter.

"The heavy-duty proposed regulation is non-traditional in terms of reducing GHG emission stringencies through driving the penetration of ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) into the marketplace. EPA's approach does not consider that GHG emission reductions can also be achieved by accelerating the turnover of existing fleets to advanced diesel technology and using more renewable and alternative fuels. These approaches could deliver substantially more GHG emission reductions sooner and at significantly lower cost than the proposed rule."

The letter is signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Petroleum Institute, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with many state-level petroleum interest groups.


In a press call Tuesday, Brooke S. Appleton, vice president of public policy at National Corn Growers Association, said corn growers believe ethanol and other biofuels, as well as engine technologies, provide immediate solutions to reducing emissions.

"The EPA proposed federal vehicle emission standards has raised serious concerns among Americans corn growers," Appleton said.

"We urge EPA to focus on outcomes and opening pathways for all lower-carbon fuels and technologies to enable more stringent future vehicle emission standards. EPA failed to use the proposal to broaden the solutions that reduce transportation emissions by beginning a transition to low-carbon high-octane fuel, which would advance climate air quality and environmental goals with these and future standards."

The groups said in the letter to Biden the push to electric vehicles would create a U.S. reliance on China and other countries to provide materials needed for EVs.

"Pursuing a broader range of emissions-reducing transportation pathways can also help guard against an over reliance on foreign adversaries and volatile global supply chains associated with critical minerals that are necessary for rapid expansion of electric vehicle markets," the letter said.

Dan Beyers, vice president of climate and technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told reporters Tuesday the EPA has yet to consider the long-term effects of relying on China to supply to the U.S. the necessary minerals to produce EV batteries.

"So, given China's well-known dominance in EV supply chains, it's not difficult to foresee them restricting additional critical minerals, which, frankly, could completely paralyze EV supply chains," Beyers said.

"So, we have to make sure we don't shoot ourselves in the foot with this rule by simply replacing dependence on liquid fuel petroleum energy security concerns with the critical minerals and mining supply chain security concerns."


Last week, all the major ethanol interest groups filed comments with EPA on the proposal. All of them asked EPA to adopt a technology-neutral approach to reducing emissions.

The American Coalition for Ethanol, for example, said in its comments that agriculture and ethanol should be part of the solution.

"Understanding the potential for climate-smart agriculture to help dramatically reduce the lifecycle GHG emissions of corn ethanol, ACE is proactively working to document the benefits climate-smart practices have on the carbon intensity of corn ethanol in a scientifically irrefutable manner," ACE CEO Brian Jennings said in the comments.

"The best way to unlock decarbonization opportunities from climate-smart agriculture is through clean-fuel policy, which stands up markets to help offset farmer cost of adoption."

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor wrote in comments to EPA the proposal was not based in reality.

"This proposal is unnecessarily narrow, presenting a false choice between only two paths forward -- fossil-fuel-only vehicles or mass adoption of EVs," Skor said in comments. "Neither outcome reflects reality and EPA's framework ignores the proven, available and American-made solution of emissions-reducing biofuel."

Also last week, several industry groups wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan expressing concern about EPA's evaluation of the near-term availability of EVs.

"The speed at which the agency appears to anticipate the market and consumers will transition to electric vehicles is divorced from our members' assessment of reality," the letter said. "The proposed rule does not appreciate the market obstacles associated with such a massive transition in consumer behavior."

The letter was signed by the RFA, Growth Energy, National Association of Convenience Stores, NATSO, representing travel plazas, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and SIGMA, representing fuel marketers.


Last week, a group of 25 state attorneys general filed comments with EPA on the proposal, including AGs from Virginia, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana and Idaho.

The AGs said the proposed rule was "unlawful and misguided" and that Congress has not granted EPA authority to "restructure the automobile industry" from top to bottom.

"The proposed rule tries to expand EPA's authority under Section 202 of the CAA (Clean Air Act) to force automobile manufacturers to build fewer vehicles with internal combustion engines and make more EVs instead -- many more, and quickly," the AGs said in a letter addressed to Regan.

"The numbers are staggering: EPA expects that the proposal will create enough EVs to penetrate 67% and 46% of overall light- and medium-duty vehicle sales respectively in less than a decade. Forcing that market transformation goes far beyond the statutory limits Congress set. And it is bad policy."

The comments submitted by the states read like a lawsuit, where the AGs point out what they say are many legal problems with the proposal.

"EPA tries to disclaim how extreme this proposal is by saying that the agency is responding to 'recent trends and developments in emissions control technology, including vehicle electrification and other advanced vehicle technologies,' that make the 'stringent emissions standards feasible at reasonable cost,'" the AGs said in the comments.

The AGs said the proposal was "far from being technologically neutral" and its dramatic reductions in emissions means that the "only automaker that would meet them right now is Tesla, which produces only EVs."

The AGs said the proposal is the agency's attempt to "substantially restructure" an "important" sector of the American economy.

"Yet, in the 263 Federal Register pages the proposed rule spans, the agency does not reckon with the Supreme Court's recent rebuke of a similarly 'transformative expansion' of 'regulatory authority,' nor explain where Congress clearly delegated EPA power to remake the nation's car fleets," the AGs said.

Read more on DTN:

"EPA Pushes Shift to EV Vehicles,"…

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