Industry sues EPA over Renewable Fuel Standard

10 08, 2013 by The Hill

The American Petroleum Institute filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging Obama administration regulations requiring biofuel to be mixed with conventional gas.

The suit, filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, drew immediate criticism from the renewable fuels industry, which derided the action as “frivolous” and “slavish.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Renewable Fuel Standard in August, long after the agency’s statutory deadline in November of last year. The industry has repeatedly called the standards unworkable.

“EPA’s unrealistic ethanol mandates for 2013 are simply bad public policy,” said Harry Ng, American Petroleum Institute (API) vice president and general counsel. “EPA issued this year’s requirements nine months late and has once again mandated significantly more cellulosic ethanol than is available in the marketplace.”

The standards require refiners to use millions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year, but the API argues that only 142,000 gallons have been made available to refiners thus far for blending.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, scoffed at the assertion, arguing that the standard can easily be met.

“This is another frivolous effort by API to abuse the court system in their slavish effort to repeal a public policy that is working for farmers, gasoline marketers, and consumers,” he said. “While the 2013 [Renewable Volume Obligations] were issued later than anyone would have liked, the fact is the statute is crystal clear, and all stakeholders have been producing and blending at levels that will unquestionably meet the 2013 requirements.”

The EPA initiative calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be mixed with transportation fuel by the year 2022. The effort is meant to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But industry groups warn of a “blend wall,” at which point gas producers are forced to make a blend of gasoline consumers cannot use and that would be harmful to some vehicles.