Kansas, Nebraska Fight EPA’s Rule on Ethanol Emissions

Published January 29, 2015

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning have joined the Energy Future Coalition and the Urban Air Initiative in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations changing how ethanol emissions are monitored. The lawsuit was filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on December 2, 2014.

The new EPA regulations, known as Moves2014, require states to measure emissions from ethanol-blended fuels in a way that predicts higher levels of pollution, according to Schmidt’s office. Furthermore, the ethanol model was adopted without the opportunity for review or public comment from states and other affected parties.

“Ethanol production is an important industry for Kansas and grain agriculture specifically,” Schmidt said in a statement. “EPA’s requirement that states use this faulty model was unlawfully adopted without notice and opportunity for comment. This is an example of the EPA imposing its will on the states rather than working cooperatively toward the shared goal of cleaner air. We are asking that this model be rejected and replaced with a model that more accurately reflects the true emission effects of ethanol.”

Ethanol Versus Air Quality

The EPA’s rule is part of an effort to reduce sulfur emissions from cars and gasoline by 60 percent. The EPA’s response to the suit argues, among other things, the petitioners don’t have standing to bring the suit as they are ethanol producers and a pro-ethanol public policy group, not vehicle manufacturers, and thus are not directly regulated by the challenged provision.

In addition, the EPA claims the rule does not target ethanol specifically and those bringing the lawsuit are seeking to improve their financial and competitive interests, but such interests do not trump clean air standards and it is not the policy of the EPA to favor ethanol over fossil fuels.

States are expected to incorporate the new model into their State Implementation Plans immediately, outlining methods for controlling pollutants governed by national air quality standards.

Dependent on Government

The Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors requested Schmidt take action.

“EPA’s MOVES2014 model will hurt the ethanol industry and the farmers who provide grain for ethanol plants,” KCGA CEO Greg Krissek said in a press release. “This MOVES2014 model is not based on sound science and does not reflect ethanol’s positive benefits to the environment. It artificially and erroneously skews the analysis of emissions effects of ethanol-blended fuels.”

David Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a longtime critic of the economic and environmental costs of ethanol, remarked on the irony of ethanol promoters’ complaints. “It’s hard to have sympathy for an industry hurt by government action when it wouldn’t exist but for government action in the first place,” he said.

“As Jefferson warned, ‘Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.’ You’ve made your bed, now lie in it,” Ridenour added.