Supreme Court refuses hearing on E15

The Supreme Court has decided not to hear an E15-related case, it announced on the morning of June 24th.

The lawsuit relates to EPA's 2011 finalized waivers to allow for 2001 and newer vehicles to run on higher blends of ethanol up to 15 percent (based on two decisions,  one made in 2010 and one in 2011). In November 2010 (after the first E15 waiver  was approved), the American Petroleum Institute (API) filed an E15 lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, saying the agency did  not have the authority to approve a partial waiver. A handful of engine and food  groups filed similar suits, which were later consolidated into a main case.

However, in January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied requests by the groups for a rehearing. That followed an August 2012 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that none of the parties had standing in the case (although one of the judges ruled that the parties did in fact have standing). Since then, three different requests for review were filed with the
Supreme Court.

"Today's court decision is a big loss for consumers, for safety and for our environment," said Harry Ng, API vice president and general counsel. "EPA approved E15 before vehicle testing was complete, and we now know that the fuel may cause significant mechanical problems in millions of cars on the road today," he said.

Ng noted that by dismissing the case on procedural grounds, the courts have declined to make a decision on the merits of the case.

"The Supreme Court's decision denies the petitioners their day in court and will have negative repercussions for consumers. It is unfortunate that EPA's decision to place politics ahead of science will stand," said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), which filed comments in the case. "AFPM continues to assert that EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act when it granted partial waivers to allow the use of E15 in certain engines, including vehicles model year 2001 and newer," he added.

Meanwhile, Growth Energy, which joined the lawsuit on the side of EPA, praised the court's decision. "Today is a true victory for the American biofuels industry," said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. "Time and again, Big Oil has challenged E15 and Growth Energy's Green Jobs Waiver in attempts to deny consumers a choice and savings at the pump and today marks the end of these baseless challenges.

"The highest court in the land has spoken -- they have unequivocally rejected the attempts of Big Oil and other opponents of ethanol to challenge the EPA's sensible decision to permit the sale of E15," Buis continued. "Now that the final word has been issued, I hope that oil companies will begin to work with biofuel producers to help bring new blends into the marketplace that allow for consumer choice and savings," he added.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which did not join the lawsuit, said it was "pleased that today's Supreme Court action ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15. The uncertainty created by this lawsuit has chilled commercial activity that would provide American consumers more affordable choices at the pump. With this decision, E15 can finally become a meaningful option for more Americans," RFA president Bob Dinneen said.