U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) introduced the Next Generation Fuels Act, legislation that leverages greater fuel octane to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, improve air quality by reducing the use of harmful aromatics, and increase demand for biofuels.
The Renewable Fuels Association called the legislation “the beginning of an exciting new era in transportation fuels policy.” By establishing a high-octane, low-carbon fuel requirement, the bill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable greater engine efficiency, and encourage competition and lower pump prices. In addition, the legislation addresses existing regulatory impediments that have slowed the commercialization of high-octane, low-carbon fuels and the vehicles that consume them.
“The Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020 provides a bold and innovative approach to reducing carbon emissions, improving engine efficiency and performance, protecting human health, and removing the arcane regulatory roadblocks that have hindered the expansion of cleaner, greener liquid fuels,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “By establishing the roadmap for an orderly transition to high-octane, low-carbon fuels, this landmark legislation begins an exciting new era in transportation fuels policy.”
Specifically, the Bustos bill would establish a certification test fuel with a research octane number (RON) of 98, along with a requirement that the source of the octane boost reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 30% compared to a 2018 gasoline baseline. The legislation also includes a restriction on the aromatics content of gasoline, ensures parity in the regulation of gasoline volatility (Reid vapor pressure), corrects the “R-factor” used in fuel economy testing, provides for an E30 fuel waiver, replaces EPA’s flawed MOVES model, and restores meaningful credit toward compliance with fuel economy (CAFE) and emissions standards for the production of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs).
Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.
Corn growers also support a low carbon octane standard as a means toward boosting long term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol. “Ethanol is uniquely positioned to not only provide consumers with low-cost options at the pump but also pave the way to future engines that increase efficiency and reduce emissions,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was a game-changer for corn farmers, and the Next Generation Fuels Act builds on that success in advancing our commitment to providing the lowest cost, most efficient, and environmentally friendly fuel available.”
Due to its high octane rating and other properties, ethanol is an efficient octane source. It is also the most cost-effective octane source, providing the greatest efficiency gains at the least cost to drivers while displacing the most harmful components of gasoline. A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 and E30, which would generate new corn grind.
“Corn farmers have a vested interest in the future of transportation fuels, which is why NCGA began laying the groundwork for this policy several years ago. It’s a real accomplishment for corn growers to see our vision reflected in the Next Generation Fuels Act,” said NCGA Chairman Lynn Chrisp.
More information on the benefits of high octane fuels and NCGA’s support for a low carbon octane standard can be found at ncga.com/octane.