October 18, 2013

Oil lobby threatens lawsuit against the EPA

From: RegWatch/The Hill’s Regulation Blog

By Julian Hattem

The oil and gas lobby is threatening to sue the Obama administration if environmental regulators do not release a biofuel regulation by the end of November.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Thursday sent a letter notifying the Environmental Protection Agency that it should prepare for a lawsuit if the final 2014 renewable fuel standard is not released on time.

The fuel standard calls for refiners to mix increasing amounts of biofuel in with conventional gasoline.

It was developed as a way to wean the country off of foreign sources of oil and spur innovation in developing new fuel sources.

The oil and gas industry, however, claims that the demand has become overly stringent, and that it calls for refiners to produce a blend of gasoline that consumers don’t want and can’t use.

They have also complained that the EPA has consistently been late in finalizing the yearly standard.

“EPA’s continual tardiness has real, adverse effects on industry” API Vice President Harry Ng wrote in the letter.  “Obligated parties need this information ahead of the compliance year — as the Clean Air Act clearly requires EPA to do — to make operational, logistics, and investment decisions.”

By law, the EPA is required to issue each year’s fuel standard by Nov. 30 of the previous year.

The agency has routinely missed that deadline, though. The standard for this year was not released until August.

API sued the agency over those standards earlier this month, arguing that the mandate was “unrealistic” and required refiners to blend more plant-based biofuel than is available.

Proposed 2014 requirements have been under review at the White House’s regulations office since August. To become law, they would need to be revealed to the public and then revised, based on public comments.

That process could take months.

News outlets that have obtained draft versions of the 2014 fuel standard have reported that the EPA is planning to significantly scale back its mandate for ethanol by nearly 3 billion gallons.

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