Industry hails court decision rejecting legal challenges of E15

By Holly Jessen | August 17, 2012

The ethanol industry responded swiftly and positively to the fact that legal challenges of the U.S. EPA’s partial waiver approval of E15 were rejected. The opinion was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of the Grocery Manufacturers Association versus the EPA. “This decision is a win-win for both the American consumer and our nation,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. 

The Renewable Fuels Association also provided a statement. This morning the appeals court sided with the EPA and its partial waiver approval for E15 ethanol fuel for model year 2001 and newer light duty vehicles and all flex fuel vehicles, RFA said. This represents nearly two-thirds of all vehicles on the road and almost 75 percent of vehicle miles driven.

Since the initial waiver filing in March 2009, vehicles were tested using E15 for a combined six million miles, health effects data on E15 was collected and approved, and a first of its kind misfueling mitigation plan was required and approved in order for retailer to offer E15.  Today, at least one station in Lawrence, KS, is selling E15 under the conditions set by the partial waiver, the press release said.

“Today’s decision is an important step forward in the nation’s quest to diversify our nation’s fuel supply,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen.  “Adding an E15 option alongside E10 and higher ethanol blends allows consumers to make the fuel decisions that work best for them and their vehicle.  Ethanol has a thirty year track record of safe and effective use in the market place and that record will continue.  Allowing for additional ethanol use will help lower prices at the pump, create domestic jobs, and accelerate the commercialization of new biofuel technologies.”

Currently, the market for ethanol confined to E10 blends has been saturated.  Allowing ethanol blends of up to E15 for 2001 and new vehicles, as well as increasing the availability of higher level ethanol blends up to E85, will provide much-needed market access to help ensure the growth and evolution of the domestic renewable fuels industry continues.

Poet LLC CEO Jeff Lautt has also responded to the court’s decision. “The appellate court decision today helped ensure that groups with ulterior motives will not derail the expansion of domestic, renewable fuel. E15 will allow ethanol to further lower gas prices, lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil and improve our economy,” he said. “POET, as part of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, is now building a commercial cellulosic ethanol plant that will use corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk to produce renewable fuel. Crop residue could be used to produce nearly 8 billions of gallons of ethanol for the U.S., but only if drivers are given the option to use it. E15 gives cellulosic ethanol a viable market. I look forward to seeing E15 become available at fuel stations across the country.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol also chimed in. The court ruled that the petroleum, engine, and grocery trade associations who were hoping to appeal the EPA’s approval had no proof that any engine has been or would be damaged by E15, and therefore had no legal standing to bring forward an appeal in court, the press release said. The legal petition was dismissed for a lack of jurisdiction.

ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings says the court’s decision is a huge win for consumers.

“This is great news for consumers looking for more affordable options when filling up at the pump. This ruling tells the public that EPA’s decision to permit E15 as an option wasn’t a rush to judgment and that this fuel is safe,” Jennings said.

“We’ve been saying for years that the ethanol industry did everything the right way when we worked on getting E15 legally approved. The EPA underwent an exhaustive process in testing the fuel and making sure it would be compatible in vehicles with a model year of 2001 and newer before it was legal for public sale. Simply put, E15 has been the most tested fuel in history and that it is safe and can be used in the vehicles it is intended for,” Jennings continued.