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Next Generation Fuels Act reintroduced in U.S. Senate

Bipartisan bill aims to create high-octane, low-carbon fuel standard.

ckstockphoto |
ckstockphoto |

The Next Generation Fuels Act was reintroduced by four senators in the U.S. Senate on March 22. Supporters say it would lower fuel prices, reduce carbon emissions and help shore up America’s energy security.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) led the bipartisan Senate reintroduction along with Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

According to reports, similar bills have been introduced in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Allowing the sale of fuels with greater octane levels would increase the amount of ethanol that can be used in the fuel supply, in turn lowering prices at the pump for consumers, said Grassley.

“Instead of continuing to buy more oil from foreign adversaries, we should be increasing the use of ethanol made by biofuel producers right here in the United States," said Grassley. "The Next Generation Fuels Act would help put America back on the path to energy independence while easing the pain at the pump. It’s good for consumers, good for farmers and biofuel producers, and good for the environment. This is the right approach to energy policy, and I’m proud to work with my colleagues to reintroduce this bill."

Establishes high-octane standard for fuel

The Next Generation Fuels Act is designed to transition new vehicles to use cleaner, more efficient fuels. By establishing a clean, high-octane standard for fuel and requiring that sources of additional octane result in at least 40% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the legislation would allow automakers to significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency through advanced engines.

“It’s shameful that Big Oil is continuing to use Putin’s war of choice as an excuse to drive up prices and rake in huge profits off the backs of hardworking Americans,” Duckworth said. “It is past time we offer better options at the pump to help lower costs, decrease carbon emissions and reduce reliance on foreign oil while helping Illinois farmers grow the food and fuel we need, and I’m proud to help reintroduce this bipartisan bill that would do just that.”

The senators said due to ethanol’s high-octane rating, greater ethanol blends result in both additional fuel efficiency and significant GHG reduction. Ethanol is also priced lower than gasoline, making it the most cost-effective octane source, they said.

Act would establish minimum research octane number (RON)

The Next Generation Fuels Act would establish a minimum research octane number (RON) standard of 98 for gasoline, which is higher than the typical octane of 91. It also requires the added octane value to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40% compared to regular gasoline.

By requiring the new high-octane fuel to use 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 expand the use of ethanol while lowering emissions will continue.

Corn, ethanol industry support

The Next Generation Fuels Act is endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), Growth Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, Renewable Fuels Association and National Farmers Union.

NCGA said the legislation builds on the nation’s clean energy progress by advancing higher ethanol blends and new vehicles that work together to deliver greater emission reductions, cost savings and consumer choice.

“We’re very grateful to Sen. Grassley, along with Sens. Klobuchar, Ernst and Duckworth, for taking the lead on this priority legislation for corn growers,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “The Next Generation Fuels Act addresses some of the country’s most pressing concerns by providing consumers with more options in the transition to cleaner fuels and vehicles and supporting our long-term energy security.”

NCGA has called on the Biden administration to prevent a disruption in access to higher blends of ethanol this summer. The Next Generation Fuels Act would also permanently remove regulatory barriers, allowing for higher ethanol blends and advanced vehicles that deliver greater emission reductions and cost savings in order to maintain a wider range of competitive fuel and vehicle choices, said NCGA.

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, said the U.S. has still only scratched the surface of the benefits American-made ethanol can deliver to the environment and to drivers across the country.

“The Next Generation Fuels Act recognizes that ethanol is the only fuel available today that can be immediately deployed to decrease our nation's carbon emissions, decrease our reliance on foreign oil, and decrease fuel costs for American families all at once," said Skor. "This legislation would give ethanol a greater role in decarbonizing our economy while decreasing volatility and lowering prices at the pump, and we urge all lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join Senators Grassley and Klobuchar to see the bill quickly signed into law.”

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