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Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers v. U.S. EPA

Close Date: 06/24/2013
Topic(s): Hazardous Substances and Environmental Protection
Docket: 12-1167
Court: Select Court

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This case arises out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow the sale of “E15”—gasoline blended with 15% ethanol—for use in cars and other light vehicles. The current limit for ethanol blends in motor fuel is 10% (E10). Higher-ethanol blends increase the likelihood of damage to engines, reduce gas mileage, and put more pressure on food prices as larger amounts of corn are demanded for ethanol production. And in the long run, ethanol use does nothing to wean the country off of its addiction to the consumption of greenhouse-gas producing energy sources. EPA acknowledged in approving the sale of E15 that it would cause significant damage to emissions control systems of cars made before the 2001 model year, which should have prevented EPA from approving its sale. Instead, EPA approved E15 for post-2000 cars and disapproved it for all model years before 2001, meaning that industry will have to develop dual systems for producing, distributing, and dispensing both E15 and E10 – the huge costs of which will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers. Even with those systems in place, the risk that consumers will misfuel older cars and cause serious damage to their vehicles is substantial. Groups representing the petroleum, automotive and engine manufacturing, and food industries challenged EPA’s action in court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that they lacked standing despite the obvious adverse impact on their interests of the introduction of E15. The industry groups sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Public Citizen, which agreed with them both on the standing issue and (unusually given the players involved) on the merits of EPA’s decision to allow E15, submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing that the Supreme Court should take the case. The Supreme Court denied certiorari.