EPA Rule on Renewable Fuels Overturned in Court

By Paul Riegler on 29 January 2013
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pump prices e85 biodieselThe United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that a quota set by the Environmental Protection Agency requiring refiners to use liquids made from woody crops and waste materials in motor fuel was unenforceable on Friday.

The panel of judges said that the EPA’s rule appeared completely unrealistic, pointing out that the cellulosic fuel rule put refiners in an untenable position namely that of having to meet the 2012 cellulosic quota even though production of cellulosic fuel is basically zero.  The quota called for 20 million gallons to be used.

“Apart from their role as captive consumers, the refiners are in no position to ensure, or even contribute to, growth in the cellulosic biofuel industry,” the judges wrote adding that the message the EPA was sending was “Do a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we’ll fine your customers.”

The case had been brought by the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group whose members were, until the ruling, bound by the 2012 cellulosic biofuels quota.

The mandate to use cellulosic fuel originated in a Congressional bill from 2007 that promoted the use of advanced biofuels in cars and trucks.

“We are not convinced,” wrote the court, “that Congress meant for E.P.A. to let that intent color its work as a predictor, to let the wish be father to the thought.”