Supreme Court will not take up E15 challenge

By Erin Voegele | June 24, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not take up the petroleum industry’s E15 appeal.  The appeal, filed by the American Petroleum Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and a consortium of other organizations in February, challenged the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to reject the its challenge of the partial waiver granted by the U.S. EPA to allow E15 use.

The E15 waiver request was originally filed with the EPA by Growth Energy in March 2009. The EPA approved a partial wavier for the use of E15 in 2001 and newer light duty vehicles in January 2011. Since then, several legal challenges have been filed against the EPA by Big Oil and Big Food. The decision of the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal “marks the end of these baseless challenges,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

“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.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, noted that the Supreme Court’s action ends a long, drawn out effort by the petroleum industry 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,” he said. “With this decision, E15 can finally become a meaningful option for more Americans.”

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, pointed out that oil companies have spent more time and money trying to stop E15 in the courts then they have on complying with the renewable fuel standard (RFS).” During this time, ACE has been working with many petroleum marketers who are successfully offering their customers choices between straight gasoline and ethanol-blends, and in every case, ethanol-blended fuel is the most popular choice.  We will continue to help retailers make more money and pass savings on to consumers by offering the choice of E15,” he said.

Poet LLC CEO Jeff Lautt said the court’s decision will clear the way, allowing for more fuel options for U.S. drivers.  “We think drivers deserve reliable choices at the pump. By denying the challenge from renewable fuel opponents to limit growth of clean, American-made fuel, those choices will be available to even more consumers,” he continued.

Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization, has also welcomed the Supreme Court’s action. “Today’s decision is another step in our nation’s journey to a future of cleaner, renewable and more secure sources of fuel for our cars, trucks and planes,” Rosenthal said. “The decision affirms the hard work of innovative companies that are commercializing new feedstocks, such as algae, to be a source of sustainable ethanol and other biofuels. These are fuels that can be produced by Americans for Americans. From coal to petroleum to biofuels, America has a long tradition of adopting new and better energy sources, and today it’s great to know we are keeping the doors to innovation open.”



3 Responses

  1. Sean



    This is sad news for consumers. We don't already have enough "corn" in our diet, so the next logical step is to distill it into fuel at a net energy loss? It's for the small family farmer right? I'm not above tinkering with small engines when necessary, but I expect I'll have to rebuild the mower and weedwacker a lot more often if the gas stations increase the ethanol content. A lose/lose. When I want energy independence, I ride my bicycle.

  2. Bob



    "..consumer choice and savings.." Savings, driven by the fact that ethanol in gasoline decreases fuel economy, raises gas prices and damages engines, all while destroying other sectors by superficially driving corn prices? Guess it's time to sell the boat while my fellow "consumers" are ignorant of their upcoming "choice and savings". Sad day.

  3. Bob Falco



    Ethanol detractors are looking backwards. We need to look to the future. To cheaper fuel, to more jobs, to cleaner air and lower Greenhouse gases than gasoline can ever bring us. They do not understand that modern vehicles largely already manufactured to handle moderate blends of ethanol (like E15, E20) and are easily enabled to use E85. GM, Ford and Chrysler have committed to manufacturing half of their output as Flex Fuel. But, even though these vehicles will be E85 capable, they are designed, to be dumbed down to run on gasoline as their default. They don't make use of the ethanol put into them. These same people are most likely aware that racing cars, like the NASCARs, are designed and tuned around ethanol. Ethanol can deliver greater performance than gasoline because it has higher octane. We American's need to look forward to the day when auto companies enable us to enjoy the benefits of the higher performance possible using the higher octane in ethanol, as well as the benefit mentioned above. Ethanol can alternatively provide more performance, or provide better gas mileage. We need to encourage manufacturers to stop dumbing down our cars to run on carcinogen loaded gasoline, and pass the valve of ethanol out the tailpipe. This will take a three pronged approach: First establishing a distribution system, the pumps and dispensers, the trucks and pipelines (Brazil has done it). We already have E10, so moving to E15 on our way to E30 where the real benefits can be felt, is the natural path. Blender pumps can circumvent the need for refinery cooperation, but their cooperation will be welcomed. Second, we need the auto companies to make and warrantee all vehicles to be Flex Fuel and program them to take advantage of the presence of ethanol for whatever ethanol/gasoline blend is in the tank of your car. The onboard computers are already more than powerful enough, the manufacturers just need to program them. Third, we need to encourage the already very significant progress in making ethanol from non-food substances, and energy crops. Science and technology has it relentless pace, and we are seeing, this year, the first commercial cellulosic ethanol refineries come on-line. These make ethanol from wastes like corn husks and wood chips, and cellulosic heavy energy crops. (Political timetables and the progress of science are different - should anybody be surprised!) But, as you are aware, once technology gets it's feet on the ground, it moves quickly (look at computers!). So, it is reasonable that in ten years these refineries will be a major part of the world's fuel picture. Big oil knows it, and is fighting a 'holy war' to stop it. But they can't win the war, no more so than the jihadist can. They can only cost us money and slow us down if we let them. Let's look forward and move into the future. And not be stopped by a stumble or two. We can take control of our lives: our heath, our jobs, and our enjoyment. We don't want big oil, which gave us the lead, (yes lead, decades after they knew it was dumbing-down so many of us and our children), then MTBE and presently benzene, to win this war.


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