Oil industry groups sue EPA over cellulosic requirements

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two oil industry groups sued U.S. EPA yesterday over its requirements for cellulosic biofuel production.

In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and Western States Petroleum Association say EPA should have waived the requirements because the United States produced no cellulosic biofuel last year.

EPA had set a target of 6.6 million gallons of production for last year under the renewable fuel standard, the nation’s biofuel mandate.

“Congress gave EPA authority to waive RFS requirements when there is an inadequate supply of domestic biofuel. If EPA isn’t going to exercise this authority in a year when zero gallons were produced and available, when would EPA use this waiver provision?” AFPM general counsel Rich Moskowitz said. “EPA’s waiver denial is contrary to Congress’ intent and forces refiners to purchase credits from EPA for cellulosic fuels that are not commercially available and amounts to a hidden fuel tax on consumers.”

The challenge comes two weeks after EPA rejected a petition by AFPM, WSPA and the American Petroleum Institute to waive the requirements and is similar to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by oil industry groups protesting EPA’s requirements for this year (Greenwire, May 29).

“Someday cellulosic fuel may be available and may even be cost-effective, but today the fuel doesn’t exist,” AFPM President Charles Drevna said. “EPA’s denial of this waiver request is in poor judgment and a perfect example of the agency’s continuing war on fossil fuels.”

The biofuels industry two weeks ago cheered EPA’s denial of the request.

“Some oil refining industry lobbyists continue to try to throw regulatory obstacles in the way of the advanced biofuel industry,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s industrial and environmental section, at the time. “We applaud the EPA for standing firm against these efforts.”