US refiners to file suit against federal biofuel standard

18 October 2013 20:05 Source:ICIS News

US refiners to file suit against federal biofuel standardWASHINGTON (ICIS)--US refiners plan to file suit soon against federal environmental officials for their anticipated failure to issue biofuel consumption requirements for 2014, according to documents circulated on Friday.

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Petroleum Institute (API) said that it expects that, as in earlier years, the agency will not meet its statutory deadline of 30 November for announcing how much biofuel US refiners and gasoline importers will be obliged to blend into conventional fuels in 2014.

Each year EPA sets consumption targets for refiners’ use of various bio-ethanols and biodiesel under the agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS). Refiners and fuels importers who fail to meet mandated quotas for biofuels blending must pay fines to EPA.

As API notes in its letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, the underlying federal statute requires the agency to set renewable fuel standards for the following year no later than 30 November.

Ordinarily, EPA would issue a related “notice of proposed rulemaking” about two months before the actual rule is issued.

API said that as EPA has not yet issued that notice, “API anticipates that EPA will not issue the final 2014 RFS in advance of the statutory deadline of November 30, 2013”.

API general counsel Harry Ng also charged that EPA has shown “habitual, historical delays in promulgating the annual RFS standards”, causing adverse effects on refiners.

US refiners that are obliged to meet the renewable fuel consumption mandates need the advance notice of EPA’s use targets, Ng said, in order “to make operational, logistic and investment decisions”.

In an earlier lawsuit over EPA’s tardy forecasts, API won a federal court decision that invalidated the agency’s mandate for consumption of cellulosic ethanol in 2012, with the judge ruling that EPA had to set mandates based on actual availability of that biofuel.

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