Biofuels groups weigh high court E15 appeal

Source: By InsideEPA • Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2021

Biofuels groups are considering whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the ban on summertime sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) reinstated by a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, after the lower court issued its mandate scrapping the Trump EPA’s approval of summer E15 sales.

The D.C. Circuit issued its mandate Sept. 17 in American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. v. EPA, et al., after refusing biofuels groups’ petitions for panel rehearing or rehearing by the whole court sitting en banc.

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), tells Inside EPA that, “While no decisions have been made yet, RFA continues to explore all potential avenues for further action to restore year-round E15, including the possibility of Supreme Court review. We are also looking at the potential for other technical and regulatory remedies that could resolve this barrier before next summer.”

The D.C. Circuit ruling will not affect E15 sales this summer, because special restrictions on fuel vapor pressure ended Sept. 15. But if allowed to stand, the ruling will block E15 sales from June 1 until Sept. 15 each year, when tougher vapor pressure restrictions apply.

The court found that contrary to the Trump EPA’s view, an existing Clean Air Act waiver from summertime vapor pressure restrictions for E10 fuel does not extend to E15. Currently, E10 is the national standard blend, but biofuels groups have long sought year-round E15 sales as a means to expand the market for ethanol.

Biofuels groups have 90 days from the Sept. 9 denial of rehearing by the D.C. Circuit to file a petition for a writ of certiorari.