DuPont Seeks to Intervene in RFS Suit

DuPont Says RFS Volumes Put Company's Cellulosic Ethanol Investments at Risk

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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EPA announced a three-year Renewable Fuel Standard volumes program for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that includes biofuel volumes below those set in the original 2007 law. (Logo courtesy of EPA)

OMAHA (DTN) -- DuPont filed a motion Friday to intervene in a lawsuit seeking review of the Environmental Protection Agency's latest Renewable Fuel Standard volumes, arguing the final volume requirements put the company's cellulosic ethanol investments at risk.

DuPont filed a motion to intervene on behalf of a petition for review filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by American Coalition for Ethanol, Americans for Clean Energy, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers and the Renewable Fuels Association.

DuPont has completed construction and is in the process of launching commercial cellulosic ethanol production at its plant in Nevada, Iowa.

In the court filing, the company said the final RFS numbers released in November 2015 hurt DuPont's efforts.

"DuPont has invested substantial resources in cellulosic ethanol, including hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a state-of-the-art facility in central Iowa to produce commercial quantities of cellulosic ethanol," DuPont stated in its motion to intervene. "Having made this substantial investment, DuPont is keenly interested in ensuring that the RFS program remains true to its intended purpose -- incentivizing investment to grow the renewable fuel market in the United States.

"...Quite simply, EPA's action puts DuPont's investment at risk."

EPA announced a three-year program for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that includes biofuel volumes below those set in the original 2007 law.

The agency also announced biomass-based diesel volumes through 2017. The overall RFS cuts came about as a result of overall decreased demand for gasoline, reflected in about a 20% reduction in overall biofuels volumes in the RFS.

"DuPont shares the petitioners' concerns with EPA's decision to reduce the statutory renewable fuel volumes," DuPont said in the court motion. "Additionally, DuPont brings a different and complimentary perspective to this litigation -- namely, the impact of the RFS rule on the nascent cellulosic renewable fuel industry and on a company that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in cellulosic biofuel technology."

The DuPont motion comes about one month after the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers filed a motion to intervene on EPA's behalf.

DuPont's 30-million-gallon, $228 million plant is expected to employ about 80 people, including about 50 on a seasonal basis for stover harvest, which is conducted by DuPont on a contract basis for farmers within 30 to 35 miles of the plant. The plant is co-located with corn-based ethanol producer Lincolnway Energy.

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

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Todd Neeley