Valero sues EPA over ethanol standard

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Valero Energy, the San Antonio-based refining giant, sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday in the latest legal challenge to efforts to expand the use of ethanol and other biofuels to power the nation’s transportation system.

Following litigation filed by the trade group American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Wednesday, Valero claims the government’s renewable fuel program unfairly favors some refineries over others in rules around the blending of ethanol into the fuel supply.

The suit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington Friday comes three months after the Obama administration announced it would not raise ethanol levels as high as the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard, signed into law by President George W. Bush.

That move was cheered by refineries, who had argued more efficient cars were lowering the demand for gasoline, making the ethanol levels prescribed by Bush unreasonable. But they continues to challenge the finer points of the fuel standard.

“Despite the agency’s best efforts, certain aspects of the final RFS rule still run afoul of the Clean Air Act,” Chet Thompson, president of AFPM, said in a statement.  “This rule further confirms that the RFS program is dysfunctional and that the only real solution is full repeal by Congress.”

The November decision came as a blow to ethanol producers and corn growers in the Midwest, for whom ethanol has turned into a booming industry.

In January eight trade groups, including the National Corn Growers Association, sued the EPA claiming it had failed to consider the entire scope of the regulatory scheme when it set ethanol levels below those prescribed in 2007.

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