As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to issue the 2014 federal mandate for biofuels production later this month, EPA attorneys continue to fight what has become an annual legal battle over the renewable-fuel standard, or RFS, set for the previous year.
The latest development in the ongoing litigation is a request by biofuel producers to intervene in an oil-industry lawsuit challenging the 2013 RFS. The suit contends that EPA overreached in setting the amount of cellulosic biofuels, including corn ethanol, to be blended in the nation's gasoline supply this year.
"We want EPA to revise its methodology for determining the amount of cellulosic biofuels required by the RFS so that it accurately predicts what will be in the marketplace rather than setting aspirational targets that don't align with reality," said Rich Moskowitz, general counsel for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), a plaintiff in the case. "When EPA gets the numbers wrong, it hurts refiners. There cannot be uncertainty in the market."
But biofuels producers worry that the lawsuit could dismantle the mandate established by Congress in 2005 to help wean the country off foreign oil.
"If this lawsuit alters the rule in any way, biofuels producers will feel the impact of that the most; and there is no other party that can adequately represent our interests in this court case, so that's why we're asking for the ability to intervene," said Paul Winters, communications director for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. BIO, along with Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, filed a motion last Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit requesting the right to intervene in the case against EPA.