US energy, food industry officials file suit on E-15 ruling

09 November 2010 21:53  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US energy sector officials on Tuesday joined food, livestock and agriculture interests in filing a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authorisation for 15% ethanol fuel blends across the US.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was among 10 trade and business groups that filed a petition for review in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, charging that the agency’s ruling to allow E-15 ethanol fuel blends lacked statutory authority and scientific justification.

In its 13 October decision, the EPA authorised retail sales of 15% ethanol (E-15) but only for automobiles and light trucks manufactured in 2007 and later.

The agency’s ruling did not approve E-15 for automobiles manufactured before 2007 or in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles and off-road engines, such as those that power chainsaws, landscaping and maintenance equipment.

The EPA said that it anticipates broadening the E-15 authorisation before the end of this year for vehicles manufactured in the 2001-2006 period.

But API and the other petitioners argued that EPA’s E-15 action was “premature, lacks statutory authority and puts consumers at risk”.

Bob Greco, API’s director of downstream operations, charged that EPA had made its ruling without adequate testing for compatibility of E-15 in a wide variety of automobile and other gasoline engines.

“Ongoing testing by our industry, auto makers and the Department of Energy to determine whether E-15 is safe has not been completed,” Greco said. “Results so far have revealed potential safety and performance problems that could affect consumers and the investments they’ve made in their automobiles.”

Greco said that API supports “the responsible introduction of increased biofuels in a manner that protects consumers”.

“However, rushing to allow more ethanol before we know it is safe could be disastrous for consumers and could jeopardize the future of renewable fuels,” he said.

US refining interests also have opposed the E-15 ruling, contending that it could force the shutdown of some of the nation’s gasoline refineries.

Joining API in the suit were the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Turkey Federation and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, among others.

The court is expected to set a date for a preliminary hearing, but that might not take place until early next year.

($1 = €0.72)

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