Court strikes Trump EPA rule for full-year 15% ethanol sales

Jul 2, 2021, 2:15 PM | Updated: 3:57 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency rule change that allowed for the sale of a 15% ethanol gasoline blend in the summer months.

The decision deals a significant blow to the ethanol industry and corn farmers who grow the crop from which the fuel additive is made. They had anticipated increased ethanol demand through year-round sales of the higher blend.

Most gasoline sold in the U.S. today is blended with 10% ethanol. Corn farmers and ethanol refiners have pushed for the government to allow the widespread sale of a 15% ethanol blend.

The Trump administration made the change to fulfill a campaign promise to Midwest farmers. The EPA under President Donald Trump announced the change in May 2019, ending a summer ban on the E15 blend. Provisions of the Clean Air Act have prohibited the sale of certain fuels with a higher volatility from June 1 through Sept. 15 to limit smog. Congress has allowed 10% ethanol, and the EPA in its 2019 ruling revised the interpretation of the exemption to federal law to include the 15% ethanol blend.

Ethanol supporters contend that using more of the corn-based renewable fuel is better for the environment and helps meet federal climate change goals.

Three judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued Friday’s decision. They said it’s clear from federal law that Congress balanced “wide-ranging economic, energy-security, and geopolitical implications” and that the wording of the law “reflects a compromise, not simply a desire to maximize ethanol production at all costs.” They concluded Congress did not intend to allow ethanol blends higher than 10% to be widely sold year-round. They said the EPA overstepped its authority.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the trade group for the petroleum industry that challenged the EPA decision, said the court simply followed government’s interpretation of the law in effect for 30 years.

“There is no ambiguity in statute and the previous administration’s reinterpretation overstepped the will of Congress,” said AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association said it will continue to work with the Biden administration, Congress and state officials to maintain consumer access to E15 year-round.

“It does not make sense to reinstate barriers that could inhibit market access to a cleaner-burning fuel choice that combats climate change,” said Carl Jardon, a farmer from Randolph, Iowa, and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

The decision is the second major court defeat for the ethanol industry in a week. On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court said some petroleum refiners may exempt themselves from requirements to blend ethanol into the gasoline they produce, further cutting into the amount of ethanol blended into the national fuel supply.

Ethanol supporters could ask the full D.C. Circuit Court to review the decision of the three-judge panel. They also could ask Congress to change the law to allow for year around E15 sales.

The industry is hoping this year’s sales will not be curtailed because by the time the court issues its mandate and the EPA is required to comply most of the summer season will have passed.

This is the third summer E15 sales have been allowed and there were indications sales were increasing. Sales jumped 24% in Iowa from 2019 to 2020, surpassing 60.5 million gallons in 2020, the Renewable Fuels Association reported. That increase was despite a 14% drop in the state’s overall petroleum consumption from 2019 levels due to fewer people driving because of he coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery fell 26 cents to $90.50 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude for October delivery fell 34 cents to $96.31 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for September delivery rose 7 cents to $2.96 a gallon. September heating oil rose 15 cents to $3.33 a gallon. September natural gas rose 24 cents […]
13 hours ago
Former President Donald Trump tosses caps to the audience as he arrives at a rally Friday, Aug. 5, ...
Associated Press

Congress can get Trump tax records, appeals court rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court sided Tuesday with a House committee seeking access to former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting Trump’s contention that Congress was overstepping. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with a lower court judge’s decision in favor of Congress. […]
13 hours ago
President Joe Biden signs the Instruments of Ratification for the Accession Protocols to the North ...
Associated Press

Biden formalizes US support for Finland, Sweden joining NATO

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden formally welcomed Finland and Sweden joining the NATO alliance Tuesday as he signed the instruments of ratification that delivered the U.S.’s formal backing of the Nordic nations entering the mutual defense pact, part of a reshaping of the European security posture after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “In seeking to […]
13 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a wolf of th...
Associated Press

US sued in bid to force decision on Rockies wolf protections

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates sued federal officials Tuesday after the government missed a deadline to decide if protections for gray wolves should be restored across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains, where Republican-led states have made it easier to kill the predators. The Biden administration said in a preliminary finding last September that protections […]
13 hours ago
FILE- In this 1955 file photo, Carolyn Bryant poses for a photo. A grand jury in Mississippi has de...
Associated Press

Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

A grand jury in Mississippi has declined to indict the white woman whose accusation set off the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago, despite revelations about an unserved arrest warrant and an unpublished memoir by the woman, a prosecutor said Tuesday. After hearing more than seven hours of testimony from investigators […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Chicago top prosecutor: Vacate convictions tied to ex-cop

CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County state’s attorney’s office on Tuesday asked judges to vacate eight murder convictions connected to a retired Chicago police detective accused of framing others who were sent to prison. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters that her office no longer will oppose post-conviction litigation in eight cases following a 2019 […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Court strikes Trump EPA rule for full-year 15% ethanol sales