Supreme Court declines to hear ethanol fuel case

“I am pleased that today’s Supreme Court action ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15. The uncertainty created by this lawsuit has chilled commercial activity that would provide American consumers more affordable choices at the pump,” Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement.

Currently, E15 is only sold at a handful of stations across the country. The biofuel industry wants to distribute more of it to hit accelerating targets established by a federal biofuel-blending mandate.

That mandate, the renewable fuel standard, requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuel into conventional fuel by 2022. But the industry is approaching a “blend wall” that will force refiners to produce more E15 to meet the mandate’s marks.

The oil industry, though, contends the fuel is dangerous for car engines.

Three trade groups — the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers — had petitioned the Supreme Court to consider whether the EPA did enough testing before permitting sales of E15.

A lower court said in August 2012 that those groups lacked standing to challenge the EPA decision.

Automakers say the agency only evaluated E15’s impact on vehicle emissions control systems, but not engines. Food groups say E15 would encourage more corn-ethanol production, in turn raising crop prices. And fuel organizations say installing E15 pumps will be costly for gas station owners.

Harry Ng, vice president and general counsel with the American Petroleum Institute, said the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case was a “big loss for consumers.”

“EPA approved E15 before vehicle testing was complete, and we now know the fuel may cause significant mechanical problems in millions of cars on the road today,” he said in a statement.