The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider legal challenges to an Environmental Protection Agency move to expand the use of ethanol in the United States.
“Really good news for consumers and for the environment that we’re going to continue to have E15 out there as an option for retailers to offer and for consumers to choose,” says Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
A coalition of livestock and food producers as well as the oil and auto industries had sued to contest a pair of EPA decisions that allowed the sale of gasoline blends containing 15 percent ethanol for use in vehicles dating back to the 2001 model year. Automakers argue ethanol can degrade rubber, plastic and other materials in vehicles and some automakers are threatening to void warranties if a car owner uses the higher concentration of ethanol-blended fuel.
“The oil refiners, they don’t want to compete with the lower-priced, higher-performing ethanol, so they’re throwing everything they can at us legislatively, regulatorially and even in the courts and so they took this anti-E15 case all the way to the Supreme Court,” Shaw says. “They lost at every step of the way, but they’ve got deep pockets and so they were hoping for a one-in-a-million shot.”
By refusing to consider the case, ethanol opponents have exhausted their avenues to blocking E15 in court. Now they’ll turn to congress, but face an uphill battle as the Obama Administration supports E15.
Livestock and poultry groups complain expanded use of ethanol will lead to even higher corn prices and, ultimately, to higher priced food in the grocery store. There are more than 180,000 gas stations in the U.S. today and a little more than two dozen sell E15. The EPA has given the green light to so-called “blender pumps” that allow motorists to select a 10 percent or a 15 percent blend of ethanol for their vehicle.
(Reporting by Dan Skelton, KICD Radio, Spencer)