Court Strikes Down Cellulosic Biofuel Mandate

January 25, 2013 07:37 AM

Via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

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Court upholds EPA's separate mandate for advanced biofuels.

An appeals court today struck down last year's mandate for usage of cellulosic biofuels. EPA exceeded its authority in setting the mandate at a level that would help drive industry growth, rather than a hard estimate of how much of the next-generation fuel would be produced, according to a ruling from a three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The court upheld EPA's separate mandate for advanced biofuels, a category that includes biodiesel and Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.

Background: The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed suit against the usage requirement. EPA projected that 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels would be produced in 2012, but the fuel is not yet commercially available.

"While the program as a whole is plainly intended to promote that technology, we are not convinced that Congress meant for EPA to let that intent color its work as a predictor, to let the wish be father to the thought," the court said in its opinion.

Refiners have no role in developing cellulosic biofuels yet are penalized if they can't buy the product, the court pointed out.

"This decision relieves refiners of complying with the unachievable 2012 mandate and forces EPA to adopt a more realistic approach for setting future cellulosic biofuel mandates," said Bob Greco, API's group downstream director. "The court has provided yet another confirmation that EPA's renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped."

"Although we disagree with the court's decision vacating the 2012 cellulosic volumes, today's decision once again rejects broad-brushed attempts to effectively roll back the federal renewable fuel standard," said Growth Energy , Renewable Fuels Association, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the Advanced Ethanol Council, the American Coalition for Ethanol and Biotechnology Industry Organization in a statement.

According to a report by Biomass Magazine, "under the court's decision, the EPA is free to reinstate the volumes it had established, so long as the information available at the time would support the agency's conclusion that those volumes were reasonably achievable."


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