In yet another green folly, the lawless Environmental Protection Agency continues to fine gasoline producers for not using cellulosic biofuels in quantities that don’t exist, making only more pain at the pump.
Last month, a federal court dealt a serious blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuels push by ruling that the agency exceeded its authority by mandating refiners use cellulosic biofuels, which aren’t commercially available. The EPA’s lawless response in a lawless administration was to raise its requirements.
In 2005 and 2007, Congress twice amended the Clean Air Act to establish a renewable fuel standard (RFS) that included a mandate to use cellulosic biofuels.
If refiners failed to meet the goals, the EPA could fine them. The RFS set ambitious goals for cellulosic biofuels but at least charged the EPA with reducing the requirement if production was lower than the mandate.
This the EPA simply ignored, issuing fines for failing to use this biofuel when it wasn’t even available.
As Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner points out in Politico, 2010, the first year of the mandate, the EPA projected 5 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels would be available.
In fact, there were none. Not a single gallon. In 2011, the EPA increased the mandate to 6.5 million gallons. Again, the actual amount available was zero. Undeterred, in 2012, the EPA increased the required amount to 8.5 million gallons. The actual available amount was 25,000 gallons.
This absurdity prompted the American Petroleum Institute (API) to file a lawsuit last year challenging the EPA’s rulemaking. The API petitioned the court to review the EPA’s January 2012 RFS.
On Jan. 25, 2013, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the EPA had exceeded its authority. “(W)e agree with API that EPA’s 2012 projection of cellulosic biofuel production was in excess of the agency’s statutory authority,” reads the court decision.
The court further told the agency: “The EPA points to no instance in which the term ‘projected’ is used to allow the projector to let its aspiration for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology.”
The agency’s response to the court’s ruling, Sensenbrenner notes, was to nearly double its 2013 mandate from 8.5 million gallons to 14 million gallons.
Different from corn- or sugar-based ethanol — which have questionable benefits — cellulosic ethanol is made from wood chips, switch grass and agricultural waste, such as corncobs.
The EPA’s requirement for 14 million gallons of the stuff is about as realistic as that trillion-dollar coin some have proposed to solve our fiscal problems.