Texas Corn Producers, Texas Sorghum Producers and National Sorghum Producers Challenge EPA’s Fuel Economy Test Procedures

LUBBOCK, TEXAS (May 2, 2024)—The Texas Corn Producers, Texas Sorghum Producers and National Sorghum Producers have petitioned the Fifth Circuit for review of the fuel economy test procedures in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards for Model Years 2027 and Later Light-Duty and Medium-Duty Vehicles.

The rule lays out EPA’s audacious electric vehicle mandate to which the agency expects automakers to respond by making 69% of new vehicles electric or plug-in hybrid by 2032. This move comes with a large price tag for Americans: some $870 billion in vehicle technology costs alone.

But buried inside the hundreds of pages the EPA takes to lay out the core of its electric vehicle mandate is a separate regulation setting fuel economy test procedures that arbitrarily and illegally penalize ethanol- and liquid-fueled vehicles—which ultimately penalizes the corn and sorghum farmers who contribute to U.S. ethanol production.

Thanks to ethanol’s superior octane, E10 has been the standard gasoline blend for nearly two decades. But, until now, car manufacturers have continued to use E0 when certifying cars for compliance with national fuel economy and emission standards because of the way EPA penalizes vehicles tested on E10.

“EPA’s regulations are bad for ethanol and perpetuate the false narrative that cars are not suited to operate on E10 or E15, let alone on E20 or E30,” TCP Executive Vice President David Gibson said.

EPA proposed to update the test fuel years ago. A crucial part of this update is the R-factor, a number meant to adjust fuel economy for differences in the energy density of the test fuel. But EPA’s R-factor for E10 is based on deeply flawed science and artificially lowers the fuel economy of cars tested on E10 instead of E0 as commentors, including the Texas Corn Producers, explained. EPA ignored these comments and finalized the rule anyway.

“The immediate effect of the new R-factor is to increase the stringency of national fuel economy standards, destroying demand for liquid fuels,” NSP Past Chairman Kody Carson, a sorghum producer from Olton, Texas, said. “This R-factor also sets a dangerous precedent going forward. By penalizing car manufacturers for switching to a higher ethanol blend, EPA’s R-factor will dampen their incentive to certify cars designed for higher blends of ethanol, such as E20.

“EPA’s rule will destroy liquid fuel demand by at least 780 billion gallons by 2055. The unlawful R-factor pours salt in the wound. EPA hoped no one would notice when it reintroduced these flawed procedures. We noticed.”