EPA Issues Year-End Streamlining Rule
January 10, 2021
By Mike Leister
On December 4, 2020 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule on streamlining the existing gasoline, diesel, and other fuel quality regulations by removing no-longer relevant provisions, getting rid of duplicate compliance provisions (e.g., duplicative registration requirements that are required by every EPA fuels program), dropping unnecessary and out-of-date requirements, and replacing them with a single set of rules and definitions that better reflects today’s fuels marketplace. This action did not change any fuels provisions but mainly rewrote the current rules in a single location, eliminating the changes upon changes that have built up over the years with the existing regulations. The new rules are designed to reduce compliance burdens for both industry and EPA, maintain fuel quality, and potentially lower fuel costs for consumers.
This rule focuses primarily on streamlining and consolidating EPA’s existing gasoline and diesel fuel programs while maintaining the stringency of the existing fuel quality standards. The still applicable provisions have been regrouped into a single set of requirements. These changes have been a long time coming as EPA and the American Petroleum Institute (API) plus the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) trade associations started investigating this process over ten years ago. All fuel quality programs and related provisions that were included in 40 CFR part 80 (“Part 80”) except for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program have now been combined into a new 40 CFR part 1090 (“Part 1090”). This regulation does not change most of the previously existing regulations, and it does not create any new fuel quality standards. This action also does not affect any provisions of the RFS program and leaves in place all of the statutory requirements for fuels specified by the Clean Air Act.
There are several elements that EPA has employed in Part 1090 to accomplish these goals:
- A simplification of the reformulated gasoline (RFG) summer volatile organic compound (VOC) standards. This removes the need for the RFG Complex model calculations and replaces them with a single RVP standard of 7.4 psi.
- The two reformulated gasoline (RFG) control zones are combined into one zone with a single standard, and all gasoline (i.e., both conventional and RFG fuel) is now acceptable for use in the RFG area in the winter.
- Butane and pentane blending requirements have been simplified.
- The list of State Implementation Plan (SIP) boutique fuels has been revised.
- Accounting for the downstream addition of oxygen has been simplified.
- The four national survey testing programs have been consolidated into a single national gasoline and diesel survey program.
These changes took effect on January 1, 2021. EPA remains willing to consider further simplifications of the fuels regulations as needed in the future. We hope this brief run-down of EPA’s recent streamlining rule has been helpful. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!