In the latest skirmish in the war over ethanol, the American Petroleum Institute asked a federal appeals court to review EPA’s 2013 renewable fuels standards earlier this week.

While EPA in August more than halved its proposed volumetric standard for cellulosic ethanol for 2013, API called the rule “unrealistic” in addition to being months behind the statutory deadline. “EPA issued this year’s requirements nine months late and has once again mandated significantly more cellulosic ethanol than is available in the marketplace,” said Harry Ng, API vice president and general counsel, in a statement.

The ethanol industry rejected both charges. “While the 2013 [standards] were issued later than anyone would have liked, the fact is the statute is crystal clear, and all stakeholders have been producing and blending at levels that will unquestionably meet the 2013 requirements,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen, in a statement. “This is a lawsuit in search of a problem.”

The litigation comes amid growing congressional interest in changes to the RFS. However, political gridlock means tweaks to the mandate are likely to result from administrative, rather than legislative means. EPA in August acknowledged concerns about the “blend wall” by extending the compliance deadline for 2013 by four months and promising flexibility in the upcoming 2014 RFS volume requirement proposal.

But API remains unconvinced. “The 2013 mandates are an example of why EPA can’t be relied upon to implement the RFS effectively and in the interest of consumers,” said Ng. “Ultimately, Congress must fully repeal this unworkable and costly mandate.”

Source: CQ Roll Call, article by by Geof Koss