Alternative Fuels--Final Rule Issued

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued a final rule to establish labeling requirements for non-liquid alternative fuels -- such as compressed natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity -- and alternative-fueled vehicles (AFVs) that will disclose cost and benefit information enabling consumers to make reasonable purchasing choices and comparisons. Dispensers of the non-liquid fuels other than electricity will carry a label identifying each fuel and its principal component. Dispensers of electricity will disclose, among other things, the applicable kilowatt capacity, voltage and amperage. Labels for new AFVs must disclose the vehicle's cruising range, any Environmental Protection Agency emission standard, and certain general information about AFVs. Labels for used AFVs must simply disclose general information about AFVs.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPA 92) requires the Commission to issue a final rule by May 9, 1995. The rule announced today is the result of a multi-stage process beginning last May, when the Commission first proposed this labeling rule.  The Commission solicited public comment and held a public workshop-conference to explore issues raised by the proposed rule.

The Commission has adopted separate labeling requirements for non-liquid alternative fuels and alternative-fueled vehicles. The labeling requirements for non-liquid alternative fuels become effective 90 days after the date the Rule is published in the Federal Register.  The labeling requirements for AFVs are effective 180 days after the date the rule is published in the Federal Register. The Rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register shortly.

Alternative Fuels

Under the final rule, retail non-liquid alternative-fuel dispensers will display a label near the selling price of the fuel, disclosing the commonly-used name of the fuel. The label for gaseous fuels also must disclose the fuel's principal component, and could disclose other components, with all components expressed as minimum percentages. (These requirements mirror those of the FTC's Fuel Rating Rule -- formerly the Octane Rule -- for gasoline and liquid alternative fuels.)

For electric-vehicle fuel dispensers, the label must disclose the kilowatt capacity, voltage, current (either AC or DC), amperage, and type of charge (either conductive or inductive).

Alternative-fueled Vehicles

For AFVs, the rule requires that AFV manufacturers affix to AFVs, and AFV dealers maintain, standard labels consisting of three parts. The labels are to be placed conspicuously on any visible surface on the AFV.

The first part of these labels will contain the estimated cruising range and any Environmental Protection Agency emissions standard. The second part of the AFV label must list and explain factors consumers should consider in purchasing an AFV; and the third directs consumers to additional sources of information from the Departments of Energy and Transportation.

Other Requirements

Additionally, the rule imposes substantiation, recordkeeping, and in some instances, certification requirements on importers, producers, refiners, and distributors of gaseous alternative fuels; manufacturers and distributors of electric- vehicle fuel dispensers; retailers of non-liquid alternative fuels; and AFV manufacturers. (These requirements for non-liquid alternative fuel sellers parallel the requirements for sellers of liquid alternative fuels.)

The Commission vote to issue the final rule was 4-0, with Chairman Robert Pitofsky not participating. Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga issued a statement in which she concurred in part and dissented in part. In her statement, Commissioner Azcuenaga said, "Although certification, substantiation, and recordkeeping requirements may all be beneficial, in the absence of any statutory language or legislative history indicating that Congress intended to give the Commission latitude to impose such requirements, I believe that the Commission has no authority to do so."

Copies of the Labeling Requirements for Alternative Fuels and Alternative Fueled Vehicles, as well as the Fuel Rating Rule and Commissioner Azcuenaga's statement are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

 

(FTC File No. R311002)

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