Ethanol group petitions US Supreme Court to look at E15 decision

The ethanol group Growth Energy has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that vacated a 2019 EPA rule allowing year-round sales of E15 ethanol.

The District of Columbia Circuit Court decision overturned EPA’s interpretation of a provision of the Clean Air Act that extended a waiver of limits on Reid vapor pressure, or R, a measure of fuel volatility, to E15 or 15% ethanol fuel blend.

In an Oct. 4 news release, Growth Energy said it argues that the decision did not give proper deference to EPA, contradicted the intent of promoting renewable fuels. The group also says the decision will suppress the expansion of higher-blend renewable fuels in the future.

“In 2019, EPA paved the way for the sale of E15 year-round. Its decision was not only a win for the biofuels industry, our ag partners, and rural America, but for the environment and all drivers nationwide,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in a news release. “Low-carbon biofuels like ethanol burn cleaner and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% compared to gasoline. E15 is approved for use in 95% of cars on the road; Year round consumer access to this higher blend of biofuel will further decarbonize our current auto fleet. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the D.C. Circuit’s decision to vacate year-round E15 because it is not in line with important court precedent on statutory interpretation and because of its detrimental environmental impacts.”

The case in question is American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. vs. EPA, with an oil refining group challenging the use of year-round E15. Growth Energy participated as an intervenor in the case in support of the RVP rule.

On July 2, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the 2019 rule. On Aug. 16, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the National Corn Growers Association filed a petition for rehearing with the D.C. Circuit, asking the three-judge panel and the full court to rehear the case. The appeals court denied that petition Sept. 9.

The Supreme Court hears very few of the cases sought by petitioners. Of the attorney-written petitions, or writ of certiorari, only about 6% are heard by the high court, according to the Supreme Court Press.

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