Groups defend US biofuel mandates in court proceedings

18 April 2014 00:04  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US petroleum trade groups want a court to separate their objections from a larger legal challenge to the 2013 biofuel mandates, a move which was opposed by biofuel groups on Thursday.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) challenged the 2013 renewable fuel standards (RFS) in October 2013 in the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Their cases were combined with refiner Monroe Energy's petition also challenging the RFS, a set of mandates issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which define how much renewable fuel must be blended into gasoline, diesel and other products.

“EPA’s unrealistic ethanol mandates for 2013 are simply bad public policy,” said Harry Ng, API vice president and general counsel.

Two of the groups' objections were to changes the EPA made between the proposed rule, issued in February 2013, and the final rule, issued in August 2013. In these changes, the EPA added a small refinery exemption and updated the fuel estimates it used in determining how much renewable fuel refiners needed to add to their petroleum products, according to the API and AFMP brief.

The updated estimates effectively required a higher percentage of biofuel be blended into products. The small-refinery exemption transferred their biofuel volumes to the rest of the industry, the groups argued in court documents.

The API and AFPM also objected to the EPA's methods for determining how much cellulosic biofuel had to be added to their products, calling the requirement "arbitrary and capricious", according to the brief.

The 2013 RFS mandated the use of 4m gal (15m litres) of cellulosic ethanol at a time when only 142,000 gal was produced, Ng said.

The EPA in January agreed to review the cellulosic biofuel mandate, in response to separate petitions made directly to the agency. The court in March approved a request to separate the cellulosic objection and place it on hold until the EPA completes its review, according to court documents.

Arguments in the case, which included the groups' two objections to the changes between the proposed and final rules, were heard on 7 April, according to court documents.

The API and AFPM, together with the EPA, sought on 11 April to have those two objections also separated and placed on hold, according to court documents.

This move was opposed by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Growth Energy and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The biofuel groups stated that the issues had already been responded to and argued, according to their filed response.

"No purpose is served by pulling API and AFPM’s petitions back a week after argument, to hold them indefinitely and consolidate them with hypothetical later-filed petitions,” the response said.

No rulings on the overall case or the request for separation have been issued.

The court cases involved are Monroe Energy versus EPA, case 13-1265; API versus EPA, case 13-1267; AFPM versus EPA, case 13-1268; and Monroe Energy versus EPA case 14-1033.

By: Jessie Waldheim

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.

Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.

Printer Friendly

Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.
ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)
ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index