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U.S. court tosses Trump-era rule expanding ethanol sales

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New York | Reuters –– A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a U.S. rule put in place under former president Donald Trump to expand sales of corn-based ethanol, drawing ire from farm and biofuel groups that vowed to work to ensure that such sales continue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority by lifting summertime restrictions on the sale of a 15 per cent ethanol fuel blend known as E15. The decision came in a lawsuit by an oil refining trade group challenging the rule.

The EPA in 2019 extended a waiver that allowed year-round sales of E15. Ethanol producers cheered that move, as it would allow expanded sales of the blend.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), which sued the EPA, welcomed the D.C. Circuit’s ruling.

“There is no ambiguity in statute and the previous administration’s reinterpretation overstepped the will of Congress,” AFPM president Chet Thompson said in a statement.

Biofuel groups said they disagreed with the ruling and vowed to work with President Joe Biden’s administration to ensure the continuity of E15 sales through the 2021 summer season and beyond.

“We are pursuing all available options and will work with the administration and our congressional champions to ensure that we have a solution in place before the 2022 driving season,” Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association said in a joint statement.

— Stephanie Kelly reports on U.S. energy and renewable fuel sectors for Reuters from New York.

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