Renewable fuel advocates say a final fuel economy rule issued by the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency misses the mark for transitioning to high octane low carbon fuels. The final rule increases stringency of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and CO2 emissions by 1.5% each year for passenger car and light truck model years 2021 through 2026.

“This rule should have established the roadmap toward cleaner, more efficient, more affordable liquid fuels for our nation’s consumers,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “Instead, it sends our nation’s vehicles and fuels down yet another pothole-filled road to ruin.”

The rule includes incentives for natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, and other alternative fuel vehicles but not flex fuel vehicles, Cooper argued. But the Environmental Protection Agency said flex fuel vehicle incentives are “outside the scope” of the vehicle fuel economy rule.

The new rule is a change from the standards issued in 2012 which would have required 5% annual increases for those years. Both agencies cited that the majority of automakers were not meeting the 2012 standard without having to use credits.

“We believe that in evaluating all of the available evidence, this (rule) strikes the right balance between environmental considerations, health and safety considerations and economic considerations,” said James Owens, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rule also projects fuel economy in passenger cars and light duty trucks to increase from 33.8 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2021 to 40.4 mpg in 2026. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler attempted to reassure that all new vehicles will continue to be subject to strict pollution standards of the Clean Air Act and new vehicles will be subject to higher pollution standards than the older vehicles they replace.

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