Lawsuits Mount Over Emissions Rule

NFU and RFA Join Others Suing Biden Administration Over Auto Emissions Rule

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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EPA's rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles relies on having at least 600,000 public electric charging ports by 2027 along with another 16 million in homes. Agricultural and biofuel groups are suing EPA over the rule, arguing it is meant to drive demand for electric vehicles. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The National Farmers Union and Renewable Fuels Association are joining the growing number of lawsuits against the Biden administration over light- and medium-duty vehicle emissions standards.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) filed a lawsuit Monday against EPA in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia over the emissions rule. Leaders from the two organizations said the EPA rule would effectively mandate the production of electric vehicles while ignoring low-carbon liquid fuels.

NFU and RFA follow a similar lawsuit filed last week by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, the American Petroleum Institute and others over the light- and medium-duty rules.

In mid-April, 25 Republican state attorneys general filed a similar lawsuit against EPA over the vehicle emission standards.

The light- and medium-duty vehicle rule was finalized in mid-April and would go into effect in 2027. The rule is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles, which account for about 16.5% of the country's greenhouse gases. By 2032, new vehicles would be required to have 44% to 50% lower emissions than 2026 vehicles. The rule, if fully implemented, would reduce emissions by 7.2 billion tons by the end of 2055. EPA officials maintained the rule did not favor one technology, but the rule focuses heavily on electric capabilities while only barely mentioning other options for reducing emissions such as increased use of biofuels.

RFA and NFU stated the two groups filed the lawsuit "because EPA clearly lacked the authority to adopt the regulation, which essentially mandates the production of battery electric vehicles while, at the same time, ignoring other technologies -- like low-carbon ethanol and flex fuel vehicles -- that reduce emissions from light- and medium-duty transportation," the groups stated.

RFA and NFU added they filed the lawsuit "separately from other challenges to ensure that ethanol producers and farmers have a strong and independent voice in the proceedings, as the EPA regulation presents numerous issues and challenges unique to the ethanol industry and the farmers who grow renewable fuel feedstocks."

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of RFA, said, "EPA grossly exceeded its statutory authority by finalizing regulations that effectively mandate the production of EVs, while blatantly excluding the ability of flex fuel vehicles and low-carbon, high-octane renewable fuels like ethanol to achieve significant vehicle emissions reductions."

Cooper added, "By relying on the false premise that battery electric vehicles have 'zero emissions' and no impact on the climate, the regulation essentially forces automakers to swiftly ramp up the production of EVs and phase out liquid-fueled vehicles that could actually deliver the same -- or better -- emissions reductions. America's ethanol producers and farmers would be severely injured if EPA's regulation were allowed to stand."

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, added, "We are disappointed that the EPA has missed a critical opportunity to recognize the significant benefits of higher-level ethanol blends in its recent regulation. By focusing solely on battery electric vehicles, the EPA overlooks the proven advantages of ethanol, which include reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and increasing octane. This decision not only undermines efforts to reduce emissions but also harms America's farmers. Ethanol is a readily available, cost-effective solution that can make an immediate impact in our fight against climate change."

The growing number of lawsuits also could spark Congress to take further action using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Resolutions of disapproval over the rule have been introduced in both the House and the Senate, but neither has come to a vote.

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Chris Clayton