API appeals to Supreme Court on E15 approval

21 February 2013 21:13  [Source: ICIS news]

API appeals to Supreme Court on E15 approvalHOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Thursday said it is filing a petition with the US Supreme Court to appeal its lawsuit seeking a ban on E15.

The API wants to reverse the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to allow the sale of E15, a higher octane fuel blending 85% of gasoline and 15% of ethanol that was approved for use in vehicles made after 2001. US fuelling stations began selling E15 in July 2012.

“We’ve filed this petition because the [US Appeals Court] incorrectly concluded that none of the 17 petitioners had standing to challenge the E15 partial waivers – not the engine manufacturers whose products will run on this new fuel blend, not the petroleum industry who must undertake massive infrastructure changes to accommodate the blend and meet the renewable fuel mandate, and not the food producers who now face significantly greater competition in the commodities market for corn, the conventional feedstock for ethanol,” said Bob Greco, API director for downstream and industry operations.

“Had EPA stayed within its statutory authority and followed proper procedures, it would have waited until ongoing E15 testing on engines and fuel systems was completed before allowing the use of E15,” he added. “Then it would have discovered that E15 is not safe for millions of vehicles now on the road.”

During a conference call to reporters, API officials said the main concern is consumer safety, reiterating that research has shown E15 can cause potential problems in fuel systems and valves.

In response to the API’s announcement, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen said: “Good luck with that. We now know why gas prices keep going up and up – to fund unnecessary Big Oil lawsuits to protect their monopoly on the fuel market. I wonder if food prices will spike as well to cover the cost of this Supreme Court challenge.”

In addition, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) said “Big Oil” is attempting to shield itself from market competition.

“Why is Big Oil so scared of competition?” said Monte Shaw, IRFA executive director.

“For 100 years, Big Oil has been the most coddled, subsidised and protected industry in America,” he said. “It’s time for that to change. It’s time to create a level playing field for oil alternatives. It’s time to put fuel choice in the hands of consumers.

"As gas prices continue to rise day after day, it is clear that Americans deserve the choice of lower-cost, cleaner-burning, high-performing E15.”

In October 2010, the EPA approved the sale of E15 for use in vehicles manufactured in 2007 or later, despite criticism from the oil and food industries.

A month later, US oil and food trade groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the EPA’s decision. US refining and petrochemical organisations later joined the growing list of groups filing suit.

Then in January 2011, the EPA expanded the E15 authorisation for vehicles manufactured between 2001 and 2006.

US House Republicans filed a bill to block federal authorisation of E15, and another congressman introduced a bill that would force the EPA to get independent scientific review.

The API said a review of available studies suggests that the EPA’s decision will put the US fuelling infrastructure at risk, and a technical analysis found E15 could cause failures in fuel pumps and fuel system components, as well as impairments in fuel measurement systems.

In August 2012, the US Court of Appeals dismissed the challenges on the EPA’s allowance of E15. In January 2013, the federal court ruled that it will not rehear the case.

Last week, a bill was introduced in the US Senate in an attempt to cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at 10%.

By: Tracy Dang
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