UAI testimony to EPA cites obstacles to mid-level blends

By Urban Air Initiative | May 29, 2020

In testimony May 28 before the U.S. EPA, Urban Air Initiative Director Trevor Hinz called on the agency to correct several crucial provisions impacting ethanol blends as part of a new rule designed to streamline regulations governing gasoline and diesel fuels.

As published in the Federal Register, EPA states the rule is intended to streamline and modernize existing regulations, to reduce compliance costs for industry, and, among other things, remove unnecessary requirements.

While commending EPA for its goals in this rule, Hinz said “Unfortunately the proposed rule falls short because it fails to remove counterproductive red tape for fuel retailers by asserting mid-level blends of ethanol are regulated as gasoline.”

Furthermore, Hinz testified, EPA has determined that retailers dispensing mid-level blends are subject to the same regulatory requirements as refiners by classifying every fill-up in a vehicle as a batch of manufactured fuel. The resulting regulatory burden of sampling, testing, and reporting on each transaction is completely unworkable.

Hinz also noted previous conflicting interpretations from EPA that had served as more positive guidance and had gone as far as correcting this situation in a 2016 proposal that the agency never finalized.

These mid-level blends play an important role in the fuel mix, according to UAI. They are made with certified gasoline and denatured fuel ethanol and are guaranteed to have lower sulfur, benzene, and volatility levels than the fuels they displace in the market, thereby improving fuel quality and reducing harmful emissions.

“This is an overinclusive definition of gasoline by proposing to regulate as a single category any fuel intended to power a vehicle or engine designed to operate on gasoline,” said Hinz.

UAI and several industry partners have filed an administrative petition asking EPA to correct what it argues is an incorrect interpretation of gasoline definitions in a previous rule. This new rule would be a vehicle to do just that, according to UAI.