Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Denies Hearing Controversial E15 Waivers Case

Jun 24: The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to hear the controversial challenge of U.S. EPA's E15 ethanol waivers. The Plaintiffs had sought a hearing of the D.C. Circuit's 2-1 decision [See WIMS 8/17/12], followed by a denial for an en banc hearing [See WIMS 1/16/13]. Plaintiffs including, Grocery Manufacturers Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, et al; had sought to overturn two EPA decisions approving the introduction of E15 -- a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol -- for use in select motor vehicles and engines [See WIMS 8/17/12]. In the highly controversial decision, the original majority Appeals Court ruled 2-1, "Because we hold that no petitioner has standing to bring this action, we dismiss all petitions for lack of jurisdiction."
    The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen commented on decision not to take up the case saying, "I am pleased that today's Supreme Court action ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15. The uncertainty created by this lawsuit has chilled commercial activity that would provide American consumers more affordable choices at the pump. With this decision, E15 can finally become a meaningful option for more Americans."
    The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) expressed disappointment in the decision. AFPM President Charles Drevna said, "The Supreme Court's decision denies the petitioners their day in court and will have negative repercussions for consumers.  It is unfortunate that EPA's decision to place politics ahead of science will stand." AFPM indicated that EPA's waiver allows gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, called E15, a fifty per cent increase over a safe and efficient product to be sold into the general fuel supply. AFPM challenged the legality of EPA's decision because E15 has been shown to cause engine damage in most automobiles, boats and outdoor power equipment, such as chainsaws and lawnmowers.

    The D.C. Circuit Court, which first considered AFPM's case, ruled that the refining industry lacked standing to challenge EPA's decision. The court reached this conclusion despite the fact that refiners are forced to produce new gasoline blendstocks, invest in the infrastructure necessary to carry two types of fuels, and face potential liabilities from engine damage because of EPA's decision. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit found EPA "ran roughshod over the relevant statutory limits." AFPM petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider the district court's ruling, arguing that the DC Circuit's decision incorrectly limits the ability of injured parties to seek judicial review of federal agency actions.

    AFPM said it continues to assert that EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act when it granted partial waivers to allow the use of E15 in certain engines, including vehicles model year 2001 and newer. Objective tests have shown that E15 may cause engine damage in vehicles and therefore should not be an approved fuel under the Clean Air Act that can be sold in the general gasoline supply.

    Access the denial order (click here, page 7). Access the SupCt docket (click here). Access the RFA statement (click here). Access the AFPM release (click here). [#Energy/E15]

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