The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday denied petitions for rehearing in a case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to permit the commercial use of E15.
The case, Grocery Manufacturers Association, et al. v. EPA, claimed that the EPA did not have the authority to grant a partial waiver of the Clean Air Act for the sale of E15 to be used in model year 2006 and newer cars. The case was first filed in November, 2010.
Initial plaintiffs in the suit included the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute.
The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers on Oct. 1, 2012, filed a petition for a rehearing of the case, reasoning again that EPA "overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act."
The group said studies have shown that E15 causes engine damage and raised concerns about a fuel "not approved for use by the manufacturers of more than 228 million vehicles on the road today."
AFPM cited a recent survey by the American Automobile Association that found a likelihood of consumer confusion and potential for vehicle damage as a result of EPA's approval of E15.
However, Tom Buis, CEO of ethanol trade group Growth Energy and advocate of higher ethanol blends, said the court's Tuesday ruling was a "major victory" for the renewable fuels industry, and could allow further investments in fueling technology for E15.
The decision "is a win-win for American consumers, providing them with both a choice and savings at the pump, and is a critical step in increasing market access," Buis said. He added that E15 will create jobs and make cleaner burning fuel available.
Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh was the only dissenting judge in the case.
"[T]he panel’s standing holding is problematic … because it is outcome-determinative in a case with significant economic ramifications for the American food and petroleum industries, as well as for American consumers who will ultimately bear some of the costs," Kavanaugh wrote.
Judge Kavanaugh also mentioned the AAA study in a footnote in his dissent.
EPA first approved E15 for cars 2001 and newer in June, 2012.