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Court Suits Filed to Block EPA Approval of E15

November 10, 2010
By: Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy and Washington Editor
 
 

Suits have been filed in federal court seeking to overturn the EPA decision to allow gasoline with 15% ethanol (E15) for 2007 and newer cars and trucks, with food and livestock organizations spearheading one effort and the American Petroleum Institute (API) the other.

The suit by food and ag groups was filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, charging the EPA decision granting a "partial waiver" of the Clean Air Act allowing E15 to be used only in cars built after model year 2006 is not within the agency’s legal authority. The groups said in their court filing that EPA can only take such an action for a new fuel additive if it "will not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system."

"In approving E15, which is compatible only with certain, later-model automobile and other types of engines, the EPA has clearly exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act," the groups said. "The EPA has unlawfully interpreted the statute to achieve a particular outcome. The agency has a legal obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Clean Air Act and, in this case, has failed to do so. We are confident that the Court will agree and require the EPA to reverse course."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute are all participants in the suit.

Meanwhile, API raised similar issues in its court filing. API's Director of Downstream Operations, Bob Greco, said, "The EPA's partial waiver is premature, lacks statutory authority and puts consumers at risk. Ongoing testing by our industry, auto makers and the Department of Energy to determine whether E15 is safe has not been completed. Results so far have revealed potential safety and performance problems that could affect consumers and the investments they've made in their automobiles."

While nothing the industry is the biggest user of biofuels and ethanol, and are "committed" to these fuels, Greco said, "We support a realistic and workable Renewable Fuel Standard and the responsible introduction of increased biofuels in a manner that protects consumers. However, rushing to allow more ethanol before we know it is safe could be disastrous for consumers and could jeopardize the future of renewable fuels."

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, the group that filed the initial request with EPA for E15, said they are not caught off guard by today's filings. "We are not surprised by the actions of these groups today," Buis said. "Having been unable to dispute the overwhelming science in favor of E15, they are now turning to the legal process to slow progress on renewable fuels."


 

 

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