Automakers and engine manufacturers sue EPA over E15 decision

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Dec. 20 - A group of automakers, marine and outdoor engine manufacturers are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the agency's plan to allow the sale of gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol. The petition, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday, asks that EPA's decision be remanded back to the agency and requests judicial oversight and review over whether EPA's "partial waiver" approval for E15 fuels violates the federal Clean Air Act provisions, which expressly limit the circumstances under which EPA can approve applications for new fuels and fuel additives.

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) joined the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) in a newly-formed coalition-the Engine Products Group (EPG)-in pursuing this legal challenge. Vann Ness Feldman will serve as counsel.


“NMMA regrets having to pursue litigation on this matter, but it is clear that EPA has not fulfilled its statutory obligations to ensure the safe introduction of E15,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “Consequently, we and our industry partners have determined that it is necessary to seek relief in the courts in order to protect our manufacturers and our consumers.”

The petition challenges the ability of EPA to grant a partial waiver for three specific reasons. 


·         The Clean Air Act does not authorize EPA to issue any “partial waiver” decisions,

·         EPA's own statute passed by Congress in 2007 states that fuels can't be approved for the market that could cause any failures. Yet, E-15 has been shown to adversely affect engines in non-road products and later model year vehicles, cause emission failures and increase air pollution due to misfueling.  Further, administrative records fail to demonstrate that even new model year motor vehicles (other than “flexible fuel vehicles”) would not be damaged and result in failures when run on E-15, and

·         The testing, upon which EPA made its decision, was put in the administrative record too late to permit meaningful comment or scrutiny from concerned groups and stakeholders.

The EPA ruled in October that gas stations could start selling the ethanol blend for vehicles built since the 2007 model year, up from the current 10% blend level.

Responding to a lawsuit fthe Renewable Fuels Association issued the following statement:

"EPA could have avoided this kind of market confusion by following all the science to its logical conclusion and allowing the use of E15 for all cars and light duty pickup trucks.  The only way to meet the nation's energy, economic and environmental goals as put forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard is to increase ethanol consumption. Allowing for the use of E15 blends is a safe and appropriate step toward meeting these goals.  The RFA will continue to press for the safe and effective use of higher level ethanol blends in both conventional as well as flexible fuel vehicles."


The group that originally filed the waiver, Growth Energy, released the following statement from CEO Tom Buis in response to a lawsuit filed by engine manufacturers against the EPA's partial approval of Growth Energy's Green Jobs Waiver.


“The scientific evidence demonstrates clearly that E15 is safe not only for newer vehicles - the 2007 and newer approved already by EPA this year - but also for all passenger cars and trucks on the road today. We support the EPA decision to grant the waiver for 2007 and newer vehicles, and we look forward to EPA's action on 2001 to 2006 model year vehicles. Concerns about misfueling are premature, as EPA is drafting a robust labeling rule and will conduct a vigorous public education campaign, and we are confident that the process will be successful.”

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