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Farm Groups Lawsuit: EPA's Vehicle Emissions Rule Favors Electric Over Biofuels

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A number of state commodity groups have asked federal court to set aside an EPA greenhouse gas emissions rule they say favors electrification over biofuels such as ethanol. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- State soybean associations, corn growers and biofuels producers filed two separate petitions to a federal appeals court Monday, asking the court to set aside EPA's revised greenhouse gas emissions standards.

In the petitions filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the groups argue the rule clears the way for electric vehicles as a sole solution to curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, at the virtual exclusion of biofuels.

One petition was filed by state soybean associations in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Diamond Alternative Energy LLC.

A second petition was filed by state corn grower associations in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri, as well as Valero Renewable Fuels Co. LLC., the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and ethanol technology company ICM.

In a statement to DTN, the groups filing the lawsuits said they are not opposed to the expansion of electric vehicles.

"We support actions to reduce GHG emissions and do not oppose electric vehicles," the groups told DTN.

"However, we are opposed to regulatory actions attempting to mandate a single technology solution to reduce GHG emissions. The most significant reductions in GHG emissions from the transportation sector have been accomplished with U.S.-produced liquid fuels -- including low-carbon ethanol and renewable diesel."

The groups added, "Our nation's farmers, renewable fuels producers and traditional fuel manufacturers are dedicating significant resources to supplying the energy our nation needs to sustain the economy and protect our national security in ways that also reduce carbon emissions. Indeed, liquid fuels such as ethanol and renewable diesel compete and even outperform most technologies on a full carbon life-cycle basis."

The groups said EPA chose to "exceed its statutory authority" by designing new standards with the "open intent to begin to force one technology upon U.S. consumers -- electrification.

"EPA's GHG calculations intentionally ignore the significant carbon emissions associated with the production and operation of electric vehicles, their batteries and other components while denying credit for the carbon reductions associated with using low-carbon liquid fuels," the groups said in a statement.

"These actions run contrary to the Clean Air Act and directly contradict the law passed by Congress to promote renewable fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard."

The groups said if the goal is to reduce transportation emissions, "We need regulations that recognize and encourage all low carbon technologies in order to achieve that aim.

"If EPA's goal is to unilaterally phase out liquid fuels, it must seek congressional authorization to do so. Absent that, EPA must stay within its legal limitations and recognize all pathways to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector -- including liquid fuels."

The state soybean associations said in their petition the EPA exceeded its authority in "favoring one technology, electric vehicles" at the behest of others including biofuels.

"Through the final rule, EPA seeks to unilaterally alter the transportation mix in the United States, without congressional authorization and without adequately considering the vast greenhouse gas reduction benefits provided by renewable fuels," the petition said.

The petition filed by corn growers and others, said EPA's action raises "serious separation of powers concerns" to effectively allow the agency to mandate the production and sale of electric vehicles.

"In designing a rule to intentionally favor one greenhouse gas-reducing technology (electrification) over others (for example, high-octane, low-carbon fuels made with ethanol), EPA has claimed a new authority to unilaterally transform the U.S. transportation fuel infrastructure -- a transformation that Congress did not authorize in the Clean Air Act and that conflicts with the Renewable Fuel Standard."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

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