Oil group threatens lawsuit if EPA misses renewable fuel deadlines

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013

The oil and gas industry’s leading trade group today warned U.S. EPA that it will sue if the agency does not finalize next year’s renewable fuel targets by Nov. 30.

Failure to meet the statutory deadline will result in “real, adverse effects” on the industry, the American Petroleum Institute said in a letter today to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The trade group said it plans to file a citizen lawsuit in federal court if the agency comes up short.

“Obligated parties need this information ahead of the compliance year — as the Clean Air Act clearly requires EPA to do — to make operational, logistics and investment decisions,” Harry Ng, API’s general counsel, said in the letter.

By law, EPA is supposed to set the following year’s targets for total renewable fuel, advanced biofuel and cellulosic biofuel by Nov. 30 of the preceding year. The agency is required to set the biodiesel target by Nov. 1.

The agency, though, has consistently fallen behind schedule. EPA, for example, issued the final 2013 targets for total, advanced and cellulosic fuel eight and a half months after the deadline had passed (Greenwire, Aug. 6).

API said it anticipates the agency also will not meet the 2014 deadlines because it has not yet issued a formal proposed rule and begun the public comment process. Industry sources said they had expected to see a proposal in mid-October, but the government shutdown likely threw a wrench in those plans.

A draft agency proposal surfaced last week showing the agency was considering significant cuts next year, but no final decisions have been made on the targets, McCarthy said. It’s not clear whether that draft is the same as a plan EPA sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in late August.

Earlier today, ethanol trade group Growth Energy renewed its call for a Department of Justice and Commodity Futures Trading Commission investigation over whether the draft 2014 proposal was leaked in order to manipulate the markets for ethanol, corn and renewable fuel credits.