Coalition Challenges SAFER Fuel Efficiency Rulemaking in DC Superior Court

 In Agriculture

In Washington, a broad coalition of ethanol, agriculture, and public interest groups are challenging the Trump administration’s recent fuel efficiency rulemaking, on that grounds that it down­plays the harm from reduced emis­sion stan­dards, ignores the effi­cien­cy and health ben­e­fits of higher ethanol blends, and fails to real­ize the promise of increased octane in gaso­line.

The rule in ques­tion, known as the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Rule (SAFER), was final­ized on April 30, 2020, revers­ing an Obama-era rule that called for sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in vehi­cle effi­cien­cy. Issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it estab­lished a 1.5 per­cent increase in effi­cien­cy each year for light-duty vehi­cles, far short of the 5 per­cent increase in the exist­ing rule. In the notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing, EPA request­ed infor­ma­tion on octane levels and how they could be increased in accor­dance with the Clean Air Act, but ulti­mate­ly failed to address these con­cerns in the final rule.

In response to EPA’s fail­ure to cred­i­bly con­sid­er and advance mid-level ethanol fuel blends as an alter­na­tive to con­ven­tion­al fuels, the groups filed a peti­tion for review in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The legal chal­lenge, which is being led by National Farmers Union (NFU), also includes the Governors Biofuel Coalition, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Environment and Energy Study Institute, sev­er­al NFU state and region­al divi­sions, Glacial Lakes Energy, Siouxland Ethanol, and the Urban Air Initiative. Previously, the group filed com­ments that focused on octane and relat­ed issues.

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