- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency cannot impose lofty cellulosic biofuel standards on the oil industry and then inflict punishments when the mandates aren’t met, a federal appeals court just ruled.

The EPA can set standards for renewable fuel production as a means of spurring development, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District ruled. But the agency crosses the legal line when it tries to impose those standards — which are largely wish lists for future developments using technology that is not yet created — on industry, and inflict punishment when the goals aren’t met, the court ruled in American Petroleum Institute v. EPA.

“Do a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we’ll fine your customers,” the judges scolded in their ruling, in which they found the EPA’s pressure on refiners was an overreach of authority.

The EPA consistently has offered wildly optimistic cellulosic standards. For instance, Politico reports, the EPA estimated annual biofuels production would hit the level of 5 million gallons by 2010, 6.6 million gallons by 2011 and and 8.7 million gallons by 2012. The reality?

In 2010 and 2011, biofuels production stood at zero. And in 2012, only 20,069 gallons were produced. On top of that, the 20,069 gallons were sold to other nations, Politico said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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