UAI: EPA emails show oil industry helped design test fuels

By Urban Air Initiative | October 19, 2016

The Urban Air Initiative has discovered that the U.S. EPA relied heavily on the oil industry to help design test fuels used for the EPAct Study. This is a critical development because the data in the EPAct Study erroneously shows that blending ethanol into gasoline increases pollution. The information was uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Boyden Gray & Associations on behalf of UAI.

The emails released under the FOIA show that the EPA asked oil industry employees what test fuels they would “prefer to see tested” and then revised the test fuels in response to their input. Internal documents also show that the EPA threw out three test fuels after preliminary results showed that ethanol lowered emissions of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants and otherwise altered its slate of test fuels to “emphasiz[e] ethanol effects.”

This new evidence of collusion between Chevron, BP, and EPA is important, because EPA used the results of the EPAct study to update its vehicular emissions model, MOVES2014. As a result of the oil industry's influence, the model reports that ethanol increases emissions of many pollutants, even though other studies have demonstrated the opposite.

UAI and scientists from Ford, GM, and other organizations have demonstrated that the EPAct study and MOVES2014 model are inaccurate and biased against ethanol. UAI's FOIA project goes a step further by seeking out the source of that bias, the petroleum industry's direct influence in EPA's own emails and other records.

The information uncovered directly ties to UAI's regulatory and legal efforts to reform the MOVES2014 model. This emissions model, which States must use when developing implementation plans to comply with EPA's air quality standards, promotes anti-ethanol state and federal policies because it erroneously reports that higher-ethanol fuels emit more pollution than gasoline with lower levels of ethanol.

UAI will use this internal evidence of oil industry involvement with the EPA to seek a corrected emissions model through regulatory and legal channels.