AFPM, oil refiners victorious over EPA

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The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association (AFPM) is claiming victory in a two-year battle against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the 2012 cellulosic biofuel mandate.

For two years in a row, the AFPM filed a waiver for what it called "a non-existent biofuel that EPA has mandated under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)," citing a lack of domestic supply available for commercial use.

In a recent yet long awaited win for the AFPM, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has thrown out EPA's 2012 cellulosic biofuel mandate, concluding that its biased forecast was in "excess of the agency's statutory authority."

The Court did acknowledge, however, that the purpose of the RFS program was to "increase the production of clean renewable fuels."

"The Court's decision provides welcome relief and puts EPA on notice that it must act as a neutral arbiter rather than a promoter of cellulosic fuel," said AFPM President Charles T. Drevna . "Instead of facing the reality of zero cellulosic biofuel production under the Renewable Fuels Standards, EPA wrongly relied upon an inflated production capacity predicted by cellulosic biofuel producers. This resulted in a cellulosic mandate that was impossible to meet and left refiners having to purchase waiver credits that act as a hidden tax on transportation fuels."

While the Court acknowledged that the purpose of the RFS program was to 'increase the production of clean renewable fuels,' it rejected EPA's argument that an aggressive cellulosic mandate was needed to force new technology into the marketplace and held that 'refiners are in no position to ensure, or even contribute to, growth in the cellulosic biofuel industry.'

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