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Policy: Environment & Energy

EPA increases biofuel mandate despite court order

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,EPA,Energy and Environment,Law,Alternative Fuels

Just one week after a federal court rebuked the Environmental Protection Agency for mandating biofuel standards based on “wishful thinking,” the EPA responded by raising those standards to even more unattainable levels.

The EPA called for refiners and importers to mix 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels (ethanol) into fuel in 2013. “EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year,” the agency explained in an announcement today. “Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.”

This projection ignores last week’s ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a rule requiring gasoline blenders to use 8.65 million gallons of the cellulosic biofuel because the mandate “was based on wishful thinking rather than realistic estimates of what could be achieved,” as The New York Times explained. Per Consumer Energy Report notes, the fuel isn’t commercially available.

The judges faulted the EPA for effectively saying, “Do a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we’ll fine your customers.”

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., faulted the EPA for ignoring last week’s ruling. “The EPA continues to make up unicorn-like standards in this area of renewable fuels production, as emphasized by last week’s appellate court ruling,” Vitter said in a statement this afternoom. “Increasing the standard after their 2012 requirements were vacated is beyond ludicrous, and they continue to force refiners to either purchase even more gallons of product that doesn’t exist or pay a fine.”

 

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