Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals slammed the opportunity for auto and petroleum industries to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of E15, a special ethanol fuel blend, for vehicles manufactured after 2000. What is E15 exactly? It is a gasoline blend comprised of 15% ethanol.
1. Before the EPA’s introduction of the fuel, the amount of ethanol in motor vehicle gasoline was limited to 10%. A Kansas fuelling station became the first to sell E15 gasoline this July.
2. Which vehicles can and cannot use E15? Vehicles that may use the fuel include flexible-fuel vehicles, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles manufactured after 2000. Vehicles that cannot use the fuel include motorcycles and vehicles with heavy-duty engines manufactured prior to 2000.
3. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is unhappy with the decision. As Bob Greco, API downstream group director, noted, “Today’s court decision is a big loss for consumers, for safety and for our environment. 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. EPA’s unattainable and absurd mandate forces refiners to pay a penalty for failing to use biofuels that don’t even exist.” To add insult to injury, auto manufacturers have noted that damage caused by the fuel will not be covered under vehicle warranties.
4. The dissenting opinion on the case could lead to very interesting appeals. As Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion, “…the fundamental flaw in the majority opinion’s reasoning is its belief that petroleum producers could meet the renewable fuel mandate without using E15. In the current market, the majority opinion’s assumption is simply incorrect as a matter of fact. One way to answer the causation question in this case is to ask the following: In the real world, does the petroleum industry have a realistic choice not to use E15 and still meet the statutory renewable fuel mandate? The answer is no…”
5. Renewable fuels can rejoice. Despite the ire caused by the ruling, certain industries will clearly benefit from the case. As Bob Dinneen, the chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Association, noted, the push toward ethanol-enhanced gasoline will “help ensure the growth and evolution of the domestic renewable fuels industry continues.”
What do you think? Was the ruling a fair or unfair decision? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!