EPA Loses Case Over Non-Existent Biofuels

From the API, the details of U.S. Court of Appeals decision that struck down the EPA’s ruling that refiners use a biofuel that isn’t available.

WASHINGTON, January 25, 2013 – API welcomed today’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals that rejected EPA’s 2012 mandate for refiners to use cellulosic biofuel, which is not commercially available.

“We are glad the court has put a stop to EPA’s pattern of setting impossible mandates for a biofuel that does not even exist,” said API Group Downstream Director Bob Greco. “This absurd mandate acts as a stealth tax on gasoline with no environmental benefit that could have ultimately burdened consumers.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine the mandated volume of cellulosic biofuels each year at “the projected volume available.” There was no commercial supply of the fuel in 2012, according to EPA’s own records. EPA’s mandate would have required refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to pay over $8 million for credits to cover the 2012 mandate of 8.65 million gallons of the nonexistent biofuels. The court said that EPA is not allowed “to let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology.” The court also pointed out the fundamental flaw with the overall biofuel mandates when it summarized this part of the program as, “[d]o a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we’ll fine your customers.”

“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,” Greco said. “The court has provided yet another confirmation that EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.”

Greco said API continues to recommend that EPA base its prediction on the previous year of actual cellulosic biofuel production in the current year when establishing the mandated volumes for the following year. This approach would provide a more realistic assessment of potential future production rather than simply relying on the assertions of companies whose ability to produce the cellulosic biofuel volumes EPA hopes for is questionable.

Our side might be on the losing side of a lot of decisions, but it is mighty tasty to see the EPA knocked down a peg or two.

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