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Supreme Court rejects bid for year-round E15 sales

The Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear an ethanol industry appeal to reinstate year-round sales of E15, gasoline containing 15% ethanol. A federal appeals court ruled last July that the EPA, acting at the direction of then-President Trump, exceeded its authority in approving summertime sales of E15 in 2019.

E15 is a small part of the U.S. fuel market, perhaps 520 million gallons a year, but proponents see it as a lever to expand ethanol’s share of the gasoline market, which totaled around 135 billion gallons in 2021. The traditional blend of ethanol is 10%.

Emily Skor, chief executive of the trade group Growth Energy, which sought the Supreme Court review of E15, said the group “will continue to explore all potential avenues to make unfettered access to E15 a reality. The Clean Air Act provides ample authority for EPA to pave the way for the expansion of E15 nationwide and year-round and increase access to cleaner fuel for all Americans.”

Until the EPA changed its mind in 2019, sales of E15 were banned during the summer as a precaution against smog.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously last July that the EPA overstepped its power in following Trump’s order for year-round sales of E15. Against the plain text of a statute allowing air-quality waivers for fuel containing 10% ethanol, the agency improperly interpreted it to mean “containing at least” 10%, said the appeals court in a unanimous ruling.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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