Bustos Introduces “Bold and Innovative” Legislation to Reduce Vehicle Emissions, Limit Harmful Aromatics and Increase Biofuels Demand

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced the introduction of the bipartisan 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.

Fuels with greater levels of octane are more stable and have the potential to make engines more fuel-efficient. This legislation establishes a minimum octane standard for gasoline and requires sources of the added octane value to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 percent compared to baseline gasoline.  Furthermore, the legislation limits the use of harmful aromatics in meeting this new higher octane standard, as well as in current-market gasoline.

“As our nation faces its greatest challenge – climate change – biofuels have the potential to help taper off usage of harmful, inefficient fuels, all while reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “The Next Generation Fuels Act looks toward the future to make sure we bring an environmental lens to biofuels production, in order to increase demand while helping our climate.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. James Comer (KY-01), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Jason Smith (MO-08), Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Darin LaHood (IL-18).

BACKGROUND

Due to ethanol’s high octane rating, low-carbon, high-octane ethanol blends results in both additional fuel efficiency and significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction benefits. Ethanol is also priced lower than gasoline, making it the most cost-effective octane source.

By requiring the new high octane fuel to utilize low-carbon sources, the Next Generation Fuels Act will decarbonize liquid fuels as vehicle technologies advance. This requirement, coupled with a new limit on harmful aromatics content, ensures that progress already made to lower emissions continues.

Using more petroleum-based sources to increase fuel octane would produce more carbon emissions, erase GHG reduction benefits from improved fuel economy and result in more emissions of harmful hydrocarbon aromatics, which degrade air quality and respiratory health.

SUPPORT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION FUELS ACT

“Congresswoman Bustos has been a real champion for the benefits of low carbon ethanol and for agriculture,” said John Linder, President of the National Corn Growers Association. “NCGA is thankful for the Congresswoman’s leadership in advancing renewable fuels by reintroducing this legislation. Corn growers look forward to working with her to build support for clean energy policies that take greater advantage of ethanol’s benefits.”

“National Farmers Union thanks Representative Bustos for reintroducing the Next Generation Fuels Act,” said Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union. “Low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions, but also criteria pollutants and air toxics like benzene, toluene, and xylene. We urge Congress to act on this important legislation and facilitate more extensive use of mid- and high-level ethanol blends.”

“The Next Generation Fuels Act represents a clear roadmap for turbo-charging our progress against climate change while offering drivers cleaner, more affordable options at the pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “With a natural octane of 113, ethanol is the only high-performance, homegrown, renewable fuel ready to immediately loosen the hold that OPEC and its allies in Russia have over U.S. fuel prices, while slashing the use of toxic fuel additives that poison our air. We applaud Reps. Bustos and Comer for working to promote the use of high-octane, low carbon higher biofuel blends that hold enormous potential for rural America’s role in clean energy production.”

“This important legislation also directly addresses a recent court decision that threatens to stall the growth of higher biofuel blends like E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol. Now more than ever, it’s vital that Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration move quickly to restore certainty for the rural producers and farmers working to deliver clean, affordable, renewable energy to American drivers,” added Skor.

“We commend Congresswoman Bustos and the co-sponsors of the Next Generation Fuels Act for laying out an innovative roadmap to more efficient, more affordable, lower-carbon fuels,” said Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Waiting and hoping for massive growth in battery electric vehicle sales and a greener electricity grid is not the way to address today’s energy security, air quality, and climate concerns. We need real solutions right here, right now. This legislation would ensure cleaner, greener liquid fuels are available in the near term to reduce carbon emissions, improve fuel efficiency and protect human health.”

“The Association of Equipment Manufacturers applauds Representative Cheri Bustos for her steadfast leadership on behalf of rural America and for introducing the Next Generation Fuels Act,” said Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “This important legislation gives rural communities the opportunity to play their part in promoting the use of low-carbon fuel sources. More than 700,000 American agricultural equipment manufacturing jobs depend on policies like this to promote the robust utilization of biofuels, which play an important part in protecting our planet, revitalizing rural communities, and offering consumers clean, affordable options to fuel their cars.”

“Today, corn farmers in Illinois celebrate the introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act. The high-octane fuel standard this bill will establish allows corn-based ethanol to contribute to a new clean fuel economy,” said Illinois Corn Growers Association President Randy DeSutter, a farmer from Woodhull. “One of the biggest concerns in rural Illinois is that our current energy policy chooses which renewable energies will win and which will lose. A policy like the Next Generation Fuels Act levels the playing field and allows fuels that can meet the standard to compete. The Next Generation Fuels Act provides clean energy and energy efficiency, while benefiting rural economies and Americans wanting cost-effective vehicles and fuels. This policy benefits all.

“This policy is even a win for automakers. They would now certify their new vehicles to meet emissions and fuel economy standards using this new fuel. The high-octane fuel makes it easier for them to meet their goals because these engines will get more miles per gallon.  That increased fuel efficiency reduces emissions. Using low carbon corn-based ethanol to build the new fuel decreases greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality to benefit human health.

“I am so pleased to be represented by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, an elected official who understands that corn farmers and rural America can make a big difference in the nation’s pursuit of cleaner energy,” continued President DeSutter.

“We are appreciative of Rep. Bustos and all of the co-sponsors of this bill,” said Kentucky Corn Growers Association President Richard Preston. “As Kentuckians, we are particularly proud of Rep. Comer for his vision and leadership on this bill. Thanks to these members of Congress, we will bolster rural communities in Kentucky and across the country, while contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reductions in transportation.”

“The Missouri Corn Growers Association is extremely pleased to have bipartisan support from Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Jason Smith on this important issue,” said MCGA President Jay Fischer, a corn farmer from central Missouri. “We appreciate their efforts and Rep. Bustos for bringing this monumental ethanol legislation to fruition. MCGA looks forward to continuing to work with Missouri’s entire congressional delegation to help move this bill across the finish line and create new market opportunities for homegrown fuel.”