WASHINGTON — The American Petroleum Institute (API) is once again misleading Congress and the general public about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS); this time, as it pertains to a January 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The ruling ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the 2012 RFS obligation for cellulosic biofuels but rejected all other complaints brought by API. API now wants to pressure EPA to do what the Court would not.
In a new letter sent this week to EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, API now says that zeroing out the 2012 obligation is the only proper implementation of the Court’s ruling. But in its own brief to the Court, API acknowledged that EPA’s prediction should not be zero, indicating, “EPA’s projection should not be unrealistically low, but it also may not be unrealistically high.” API also claimed to the Court that its members paid $17 million in compliance costs for the RFS, when public records available at the time showed the true cost to be a fraction of that amount.
“The cellulosic biofuel industry now has facilities under construction and starting up in 20 states, representing billions of dollars in private investment,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council. “API’s strategy on the RFS is simple: create as much uncertainty and doubt around the program as possible to scare off investors from advanced biofuels. They have lost 10 percent of their market share to domestically produced renewable fuels to date, and they are not going to let the truth stand in the way of their efforts to short-circuit this incredibly successful program.”
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Industrial & Environmental Section, added, “API is trying to re-litigate in the press the issues it lost in court. The Court recognized EPA’s authority to administer the rules for the RFS, and EPA should reject this attempt to spin that decision. It is interesting that just as reputable companies such as DuPont, INEOS, POET-DSM, and Abengoa are actually getting steel in the ground and building commercial cellulosic biorefineries, API is turning on the crocodile tears and ramping up gross distortions in a desperate and foolish effort to derail American biotech innovation for new and cleaner transportation fuels. They want to strangle the infant cellulosic biofuel industry in the cradle in order to keep Americans captive consumers of high-priced foreign oil.”
Advanced biofuel companies across the United States have invested in technology development and construction of first-of-a-kind commercial scale refineries for cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. API is decrying the new EPA proposal to blend 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels in 2013, saying the fuel does not exist. In reality, EPA’s targets are based on production capacities of plants that are already built.
Advanced biofuel trade organizations today opposed API’s request and recommended that EPA follow the Court’s direction and remain consistent in its thoughtful implementation of the program’s rules, despite the delays and interference already caused by API’s multiple lawsuits.