2 States Take Legal Action Against EPA

(LibertySons.org) – Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird lead the Attorneys General of six other mid-Western states in calling out the EPA for dragging its feet in changing regulations in a January 23 letter regarding the sale of ethanol-containing gasoline blends year-round as previously requested by the governors of eight states. A bipartisan coalition of 31 Congressional lawmakers sent a letter on February 9 echoing the Attorneys’ General request for action. Yet, the EPA continued to delay, prompting Bird and Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers to file suit on August 7 against the agency for failing to act.

In 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instituted a rule allowing the year-round sale of fuels containing more than 10% ethanol. However, oil groups challenged the guideline in DC District Court in 2021 because they said the gasoline blends carried a Reid vapor pressure (RVP), a measure of gasoline volatility, measuring too high for hot summer months based on other EPA rules.

The court concurred and prohibited fuel sales containing more than 10% ethanol from June 1 through September 15 each year. However, the EPA issued emergency waivers during the summers of 2022 and 2023, allowing the sale of ethanol-enhanced fuels, E10 and E15, to offset the rising prices of gasoline caused by the war in Ukraine. Moreover, the EPA temporarily waived the nine psi RVP limitation. Subsequently, the governors of eight mid-Western states requested to make the waiver permanent, allowing year-round gasoline-ethanol blend sales where ethanol comprised 10% or more of the blend.

By law, the EPA should have responded to the governors’ request no later than July 28, 2022, 90 days after the governors made their formal request on April 28, 2022. The lawsuit filed by Iowa and Nebraska seeks a court order to force the EPA to put the waivers to the regulations into place permanently by law and do so no later than January 1, 2024, six months ahead of the 2024 high-ozone season. Bird and Hilgers argue selling ethanol-blend gasoline year-round will reduce harmful emissions, benefit Clean Air targets, and reduce fuel costs to consumers in their states.

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