SDFU to Sen. Rounds: Time for EPA to do its duty

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. — SDFU President Doug Sombke has urged Senator Mike Rounds, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, to ensure that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt enforces a law that has been on the books for more than 25 years, but ignored by his Agency. Sombke was prompted to write by EPW Chairman John Barrosso’s recent letterto Pruitt criticizing EPA’s failure to comply with certain study requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Barrosso reminded Pruitt that “EPA cannot ignore the will of Congress and the requirements of the Clean Air Act for 17 years.”

Sombke told Rounds that “EPA’s dereliction of duty goes well beyond its failures with the RFS. It is well past time for EPA to enforce the mandatory requirements of Section 202(l) of the Clean Air Act, the so-called ‘clean octane’ provision.”

Millions of urban Americans, especially children, would benefit the most from proper enforcement of the “clean octane” provision, which Congress enacted in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments while it was banning leaded gasoline. To prevent a repeat of the horrific lead health effects, Congress required EPA to limit “to the greatest achievable extent” the use of benzene-based additives (known as BTEX) which refiners use to increase gasoline octane ratings. Typical gasoline contains at least 25 percent BTEX, and tens of billions of gallons are combusted every year. Recently, the respected Center for Environmental Health released a report on the devastating effects BTEX emissions products can have on the fetus and infants (

Recently, EPA scientists belatedly admitted what experts have been saying for many years: gasoline exhaust is the predominant source of the most dangerous urban pollutants, including ultrafine particulates that carry carcinogens through the blood stream to the brain and other organs. Some of the most potent of these are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which the surgeon general identified years ago as the most deadly agents in tobacco smoke. Gasoline PAHs are even more pervasive and lethal than tobacco PAHs, and there is no way for urban residents to escape them because they travel long distances, and penetrate into homes, schools, and cars.

Automakers have told EPA that they require higher octane gasoline to power more efficient, higher compression engines. U.S. Department of Energy labs have singled out ethanol’s superior octane properties as the preferred way to produce higher octane gasoline. Ethanol’s superior octane rating comes at a lower cost than oil-derived BTEX compounds, so consumers and the economy are also big winners.

On October 19, 1017, Pruitt told Rounds and other senators that his “responsibility as Administrator of the EPA is to faithfully administer the laws passed by the U.S. Congress.” Sombke strongly urged Senator Rounds to ensure that EPA ends its 25 years of obstruction and fulfills its sworn duty to protect the public health and welfare.