By RYAN TRACY and BRENT KENDALL
WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court recently dismissed
legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency's
move to expand ethanol use in the US.
The vast majority of gasoline in the US contains about 10%
ethanol. Ethanol manufacturers asked the EPA
in 2009 to allow the use of 15% blends in a bid to expand their
The EPA, which regulates fuels based on the pollution they
create, granted the industry a partial victory when it approved
so-called E15 fuel for use in vehicles dating back to model
year 2001, though not in older models.
Trade groups representing the oil and auto industries in
late 2010 challenged that decision, saying a
partial approval of the product would expose them
to lawsuits from customers who put the fuel in the wrong
Food companies, fretting that more ethanol use would drive up the costs
of corn-based animal feed, also sued.
On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, dismissed the challenges on
jurisdictional grounds, saying none of the parties had a legal
right to challenge the EPA decision.
Bob Greco, downstream director at the American Petroleum
Institute, which represents the oil and gas industry, said it
is "astounding that the court does not accept that refiners,
who must comply with the ethanol mandate, have standing to
bring this case."
A 2005 law requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of
ethanol into the US fuel supply.
Bob Dinneen, president of the ethanol trade group the Renewable
Fuels Association, said today's decision is an important
step forward in the nation's quest to diversify our nation's
fuel supply, adding that it would allow consumers
to make the fuel decisions that work best for them and their
In a statement, the EPA said that this decision and
EPA's previous actions do not require the use or sale of E15.
EPA will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure a smooth
transition as businesses decide whether to introduce E15 into
Despite the ruling, its not clear how widely E15 will
be adopted. On Friday, Mr. Dinneens group cited only one
gas station, in Lawrence, Kan., that sells E15.
Major auto makers have said their warranties won't cover
damage associated with E15 fuel, even though the EPA has said
E15 is safe in newer vehicles.
And the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade
group representing gasoline stations, has raised concerns about
whether the fuel can be safely stored in underground tanks and
about liability for customers who use the fuel in the wrong
Dow Jones Newswires