Ag Groups Suing Over Biden Emissions Rules

Jun 20, 2024

By Ryan Hanrahan

Reuters reported Tuesday that “the top U.S. oil and corn industry lobby groups said on Tuesday they were suing the administration of President Joe Biden over its plans to slash planet-warming tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks, arguing the regulations will cause economic harm.”

“The American Petroleum Institute (API), which is the top U.S. oil and gas lobby group and includes Exxon Mobil as a member, said on Tuesday it was suing the EPA over its truck regulations, just days after having filed a separate federal lawsuit over the agency’s light and medium duty vehicle rules,” Reuters reported. “…The National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said they had joined Tuesday’s suit, arguing the administration was abandoning biofuels.”

In addition, Progressive Farmer’s Chris Clayton reported Tuesday that “the National Farmers Union and Renewable Fuels Association are joining the growing number of lawsuits against the Biden administration over light- and medium-duty vehicle emissions standards. The National Farmers Union (NFU) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) filed a lawsuit Monday against EPA in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia over the emissions rule.”

What’s in the Emissions Rules?

Clayton reported that “the light- and medium-duty vehicle rule was finalized in mid-April and would go into effect in 2027. The rule is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles, which account for about 16.5% of the country’s greenhouse gases.”

“By 2032, new vehicles would be required to have 44% to 50% lower emissions than 2026 vehicles,” Clayton reported. “The rule, if fully implemented, would reduce emissions by 7.2 billion tons by the end of 2055. EPA officials maintained the rule did not favor one technology, but the rule focuses heavily on electric capabilities while only barely mentioning other options for reducing emissions such as increased use of biofuels.”

Axios’ Andrew Freedman reported in March that “the rules do not mandate that automakers transition their fleets over to sell more EVs by a certain date. But with tighter emissions curbs, manufacturers are likely to favor more EVs to comply with the rules. A fact sheet given to reporters shows that during 2030-2032 manufacturing years, carmakers may choose to produce 30% to 56% of new light duty vehicle sales as battery electric vehicles, with the rest consisting of a mix of other clean vehicle technologies.”

For semi-trucks, the Commercial Carrier Journal’s Jason Cannon reported in March, the emissions rule says that “roughly 30% of heavy-heavy-duty vocational trucks would need to be zero-emission by 2032 and 40% of regional day cabs. The EPA Phase 3 rule does not specify any particular emissions solution in its rules, maintaining its promise of a ‘technology-neutral’ approach. However, it will be difficult to hit emissions benchmarks without some integration of either hybrid, battery-electric, or hydrogen-electric trucks.”

Why Ag Groups Oppose The Rules

Clayton reported that “RFA and NFU stated the two groups filed the lawsuit ‘because EPA clearly lacked the authority to adopt the regulation, which essentially mandates the production of battery electric vehicles while, at the same time, ignoring other technologies — like low-carbon ethanol and flex fuel vehicles — that reduce emissions from light- and medium-duty transportation,’ the groups stated.”

In addition, Clayton reported that “RFA and NFU added they filed the lawsuit ‘separately from other challenges to ensure that ethanol producers and farmers have a strong and independent voice in the proceedings, as the EPA regulation presents numerous issues and challenges unique to the ethanol industry and the farmers who grow renewable fuel feedstocks.'”

Reuters reported that Ryan Meyers, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president and general counsel, said that “the EPA is forcing a switch to technology that simply does not presently exist for these kinds of vehicles – and even if it were someday possible, it will almost certainly have consequences for your average American.”

National Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle said that “EPA has tried to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing climate change by prioritizing electric vehicles over other climate remedies like corn ethanol,” according to the Reuters reporting.

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