API sues US EPA over 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard's cellulosic mandate

Washington (Platts)--8Oct2013/459 pm EDT/2059 GMT


A major oil industry group on Tuesday sued the US Environmental Protection Agency over its 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard, saying that its blending mandate for cellulosic ethanol is unrealistic.

The 2013 RFS requires refiners to blend 4 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, but the American Petroleum Institute noted that only 142,000 gallons are available for blending so far this year.

"EPA's unrealistic ethanol mandates for 2013 are simply bad public policy," said Harry Ng, API vice president and general counsel. "EPA issued this year's requirements nine months late and has once again mandated significantly more cellulosic ethanol than is available in the marketplace."

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The API filed its suit in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That court, in a January ruling on a lawsuit the API had filed on the 2012 RFS, had said the EPA was too "aspirational" in setting its 2012 cellulosic biofuels mandate at 10.45 million gallons. It ordered the agency to accurately consider the prevailing market conditions for the fuel.

In issuing its 2013 RFS in August, the EPA said the US cellulosic biofuels industry was in a year of "transition" and could see a "rapid expansion" in production going forward.

"While cellulosic biofuel production in the United States remains limited, the industry continues to make significant progress towards producing cellulosic biofuel at prices competitive with petroleum fuels," EPA said in the 2013 rule.

Biofuels groups called the lawsuit "frivolous," and said it was part of the oil industry's long-standing campaign to repeal the RFS. The Renewable Fuel Association noted that nearly 130,000 credits representing gallons of cellulosic biofuels had been generated through August, with production expected to accelerate.

"All stakeholders have been producing and blending at levels that will unquestionably meet the 2013 requirements," RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement. "This is a lawsuit in search of a problem."

--Herman Wang, herman.wang@platts.com
--Edited by Lisa Miller, lisa.miller@platts.com

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