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Court Backs EPA Decision To Allow 15% Ethanol In Gas

by Jeff Johnson
August 27, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 35

On Aug. 17, industry associations representing petroleum, automobile, grocery, and food companies lost their legal challenge to EPA’s recent decision allowing the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol. The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means that EPA can sanction the sale of gasoline with up to 15% ethanol for use in vehicles made in 2001 and later. Currently, gasoline containing a maximum of 10% ethanol can be sold in the U.S. The court said that by allowing more ethanol in gas, EPA is not directly imposing regulatory restrictions, costs, or other burdens on the industry groups, but merely permitting the fuel to be sold. Driving the 15% ethanol requirement is the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires more production of renewable fuels in the U.S. RFS is under attack because the current drought is affecting the production and price of corn, the main raw material for making ethanol. Five state governors, many Congress members, and industry groups—particularly farmers using corn for animal feed—have petitioned EPA to drop RFS for this year. EPA has declined, but last week it opened a 30-day comment period and called for a formal review.


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