Coalition seeks Supreme Court decision on E15

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An engine products coalition is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a court of appeal’s decision not to hear a case against the Environmental Protection Agency’s allowance of E15, or gas with 15 percent ethanol, in the overall fuel supply.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association joined The Engine Products Group in the petition to the nation’s highest court to reconsider a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in August that none of the parties had standing in the case challenging the EPA’s decision to grant partial waivers approving the sale of gasoline containing E15.

“We believe that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals incorrectly ruled that the Engine Product Group lacks standing to challenge the EPA's E15 partial waiver and hope that the Supreme Court will consider our petition,” NMMA director of regulatory and legal affairs Nicole Vasilaros told Trade Only Today in an email. “This petition is another step forward in the legal process as we seek to resolve procedural issues and instead focus on the known consumer harms caused by E15, and EPA's actions in granting a partial waiver.”

The government technically has 30 days to respond to the petition filed by the engine groups, which include the NMMA, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, The Association of Global Automakers and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, but could extend that period, NMMA spokeswoman Lauren Dunn told Trade Only in an email.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will make a decision to grant the petition by summer recess or, if later, in the fall term,” Dunn said in an email.

The petition asks the Supreme Court to accept the case for review. If the Supreme Court does so, the parties will then ask the court to reverse the appeals court’s ruling and find the parties have the right to challenge the EPA’s partial waiver decisions that allow the sale of E15 for some passenger cars and light trucks, but not older vehicles or in motorcycles, boats and off-road engines.

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a rehearing on the EPA decision that put fuel with 15 percent ethanol on the market. Dissenting Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the EPA waiver “plainly violates” statutory text, according to court documents filed in January.

That was after a three-member panel of judges for the same court dismissed a challenge by the coalition in August 2012.

The battle over E15 is not just gaining traction in the courts. There has also been legislation introduced on Capitol Hill asking for more studies of the fuel’s effect on engines and a complete review of the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

The NMMA plans to see more legislation introduced regarding the fuel standard prior to the American Boating Congress, which runs May 8-9 in Washington, D.C.

— Reagan Haynes