Oil lobby threatens lawsuit against the EPA

It was developed as a way to wean the country off of foreign sources of oil and spur innovation in developing new fuel sources.

The oil and gas industry, however, claims that the demand has become overly stringent, and that it calls for refiners to produce a blend of gasoline that consumers don’t want and can't use.

They have also complained that the EPA has consistently been late in finalizing the yearly standard.

“EPA’s continual tardiness has real, adverse effects on industry” API Vice President Harry Ng wrote in the letter. “Obligated parties need this information ahead of the compliance year — as the Clean Air Act clearly requires EPA to do — to make operational, logistics, and investment decisions.”

By law, the EPA is required to issue each year’s fuel standard by Nov. 30 of the previous year.

The agency has routinely missed that deadline, though. The standard for this year was not released until August.

API sued the agency over those standards earlier this month, arguing that the mandate was “unrealistic” and required refiners to blend more plant-based biofuel than is available.

Proposed 2014 requirements have been under review at the White House’s regulations office since August. To become law, they would need to be revealed to the public and then revised, based on public comments.

That process could take months.

News outlets that have obtained draft versions of the 2014 fuel standard have reported that the EPA is planning to significantly scale back its mandate for ethanol by nearly 3 billion gallons.

In a statement sent to The Hill on Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security MORE said that the agency “is only developing a draft proposal.”

“The agency has made no final decision on the proposed renewable fuel standards for 2014,” she added.

For the last 16 days, about 94 percent of the EPA was furloughed while the government was shutdown

API President Jack Gerard anticipated earlier this month that those furloughs could delay the 2014 fuel standard.

-- This story was updated with a quote from Gina McCarthy at 4:49 p.m.