Court dismisses challenge to EPA's introduction of E15

A federal appeals court dismissed a legal challenge to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s introduction of gasoline with a higher ethanol blend into the marketplace. The three-judge US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the petroleum industry and two other groups did not have legal standing in the matter.

The attempt by refiners and product importers to draw a causal link between the waivers they challenge and costs they would incur introducing the 85% gasoline-15% ethanol blend (E15) “ultimately rings hollow,” the Aug. 17 decision said.

“If anything is ‘forcing’ these entities to incur the costs of introducing a new fuel, it is the obligations set by the [federal Renewable Fuel Standard], competitive pressures, or some combination thereof,” it continued. “EPA’s partial waivers simply provide a new choice of fuel for manufacturers to produce. There is not a cause of these costs providing the petroleum group with standing.”

It also denied standing to engine manufacturers, who warned that introducing E15 could harm their products, and food businesses which produce, market, and distributed products requiring corn.

Officials from the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers immediately criticized the ruling.

“AFPM members want to ensure that all fuels sold into commerce are safe for consumers, effective and reliable, but today's decision confounds our ability to do so,” said Charles T. Drevna, the association’s president.

“Vehicle testing has confirmed that E15 damages certain engines,” he continued. “In fact, vehicle manufacturers have begun to include warnings on their gas caps that E15 could void vehicle warranties. This decision will harm every American who owns a car, truck, or small engine equipment.”

API Downstream Director Bob Greco separately said that it was astounding the court found that refiners, who must comply with the federal ethanol mandate contained in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, don’t have legal standing.

“EPA approved E15 before vehicle testing was complete, and we now know that the fuel may cause significant mechanical problems in millions of cars on the road today,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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