US petroleum group mulls legal challenge to 15% ethanol blend

27 October 2010 20:48  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Petroleum Institute (API) may challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in court over its approval of the sale of 15% ethanol fuel blends (E-15), an API executive said on Wednesday.

“Right now, like everyone else, we’re looking at what our options are,” said Prentiss Searles, manager of downstream and industry operations for the API. “All things are still on the table. If we were to do something, we have to see what the timing is.”

The API said it believed it had 60 days following the approval to file a lawsuit. The E-15 approval was given by EPA on 13 October, which would allow the trade group until mid-December.

The API charged that EPA was rushing through the standard without complete research.

“They may have responded politically on E-15, but they didn’t come up with good policy,” said Searles.

Searles spoke during a pre-election conference call in which API officials restated their views on a string of new EPA regulations, including on E-15, greenhouse gas (GHG) rules and ozone standards.

“These regulations will slow down business expansion and keep more Americans unemployed,” said Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs.

The US holds national elections on 2 November.

The API, petrochemical producers and a wide coalition of other manufacturing, food processing, agricultural and environmental groups have opposed the E-15 plan on grounds that the higher ethanol fuel blend would harm many engines and distribution systems and would not improve the environment.

US refiners have warned that an E-15 authorisation could force shutdowns of some domestic gasoline refineries.

On the other hand, ethanol industry advocates had earlier warned that an E-15 blend approval was critical to the survival of the US biofuels industry.

The EPA said its decision was based on environmental grounds and the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.

The approval for retail sale of E-15 fuel blends was only for automobiles and light trucks manufactured in 2007 and since.

Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick in Washington

For more on ethanol visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Ben DuBose
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