API, others appeal E15 standing ruling to US Supreme Court

The American Petroleum Institute and eight other trade associations asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court’s ruling that they lack standing to legally challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency’s introduction of gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend into the US market.

The groups filed their petition because the US Circuit of Appeals Court for the District of Columbia concluded that none of the 17 petitioners—including engine manufacturers and food producers as well as the petroleum industry—had legal standing to challenge E15 partial waivers EPA issued in 2012, API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco said on Feb. 21.

“Had EPA stayed within its statutory authority and followed proper procedures, it would have waited until ongoing E15 testing on engines and fuel systems was completed before allowing the use of E15,” he told reporter during a teleconference. “Then it would have discovered that E15 is not safe for millions of vehicles now on the road.”

“The DC Circuit’s decision could not have come at a worse time—in the dead heat of August, as the most devastating drought we’ve experienced in the last 50 years drove corn prices up nearly 40% in a matter of weeks,” added Louis Finkel, executive vice-president for government affairs, Grocery Manufacturers Association, who also participated.

“The decision effectively increased demand for a crop that was already in extremely short supply, thanks to Mother Nature and an unworkable [federal Renewable Fuels Standard] policy,” he maintained.

“Although we hope the court will resolve the E15 problem, we also believe our experience here represents only one of many underlying problems with the RFS, so we are calling on Congress to repeal the program,” Greco said.

RFS impacts

Finkel said the RFS contributed to an increase in acreage planted with corn from nearly 82 million acres in 2005 to more than 96 million acres in 2012. By comparison, the acreage planted with the next two biggest crops, soybeans and wheat, stayed flat, he noted.

“From 2005 through 2011, the price of corn rose by $4.05; soybeans by $6.85; and wheat by $4.08,” the GMA official said. “By comparison, in the previous 6-year period, commodities rose only modestly.

“These increased acres planted should provide some price relief by adding additional supply,” he said. “However, any gains in supply are largely offset by the fact that 40% of production acreage planted is devoted to ethanol production. And again, flooding the market with E15 will make it worse for consumers.”

In addition to API and GMA, the petitioners included the American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, the National Retail Federation’s National Council of Chain Restaurants, North American Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the Snack Food Council.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the other large US oil and gas association which would have to deal with widespread use of gasoline with a higher ethanol content, plans to file its own petition before the Apr. 15 deadline, a spokeswoman told OGJ.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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