Oil-and-gas lobby might take ethanol fight to Supreme Court

Source: By Zack Colman, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is “strongly considering” asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case regarding sales of a high-ethanol fuel blend, API Group Downstream Director Bob Greco said Tuesday.

The Supreme Court move would represent another escalation in API’s campaign to roll back rules and court decisions vital to the biofuels industry. Greco said API would need to file a petition for a rehearing by mid-April.

In question is a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to allow E15 fuel into the marketplace.

EPA and the biofuels industry have said the fuel blend — which contains 15 percent ethanol, rather than the standard 10 percent — is safe for cars made in 2001 or later.

But API and automakers contend E15 damages cars. API floated the Supreme Court option during a Tuesday press call announcing research that it and automakers funded showing E15 harms cars.

The E15 court case is one part of the lobby group’s congressional and legal battles to block E15 sales and to repeal a biofuel-blending mandate.

Biofuels groups contend API and its oil-and-gas allies are concerned about losing market share.

Currently, E15 is only available at a handful of gas stations across the country. But more of it is needed to meet the blending mandate’s accelerating targets, which calls for mixing 36 billion gallons of biofuel into traditional transportation fuel by 2022.

“Oil companies are desperate to prevent the use of higher blends of renewable fuels,” Tom Buis, chief executive with biofuel trade group Growth Energy, said in a Tuesday statement. “They have erected every regulatory and legal roadblock imaginable to prevent our nation from reducing our dependence on oil.”