Coalition of farm, food groups file ethanol lawsuit

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – A coalition of farm and food trade associations filed a suit in federal court Nov. 9 to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to allow gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be sold for cars manufactured in the 2007 model year or later.

Farm and food petitioners in the suit, which was filed with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, include the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute.

The Coalition objects to the EPA’s decision on the grounds that granting a “partial waiver” of the Clean Air Act allowing E15 to be used only in cars built after model year 2006 is not within the agency’s legal authority. The petitioners argue that under the Clean Air Act the EPA administrator may only grant a waiver for a new fuel additive if it “will not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system.”

Members of the coalition provided comments regarding the suit and the EPA’s recent decision.

American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle said, “Corn prices have increased since USDA released estimates that corn production for this year was going to be 3.4 percent less than 2009. This will put pressure on the meat and poultry supply, which will lead to higher food prices for consumers. For those consumers worried about climbing food prices, this decision will increase the amount of corn being diverted to our gas tanks and away from meat and poultry production. It’s unfortunate that EPA acted hastily and approved the use of E15, and now the American consumer will pay for it at the grocery store.”

National Meat Association CEO Barry Carpenter added, “National Meat Association is joining this petition because EPA has overstepped its legal authority and taken action contrary to the interests of consumers and food producers. NMA believes the petition is necessary to defend against the cost increases and food insecurity that will result from EPA's action."

“In trying so hard to rush out an E15 rule before Election Day, EPA completely disregarded the legitimate scientific concerns surrounding E15 and the potentially disastrous impact of diverting even more corn from food and feed to fuel,” said National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger. “We believe the agency ignored the law as well, and we are confident the court will agree.”

National Chicken Council Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Bill Roenigk added, “With corn supplies very tight and ending inventories projected to be precariously low, corn costs continue to head toward historical highs. Any unnecessary and arbitrary action by the government that would exacerbate the situation for traditional corn users is very questionable and an unwise move at this time.”

National Pork Producers Council Environment Committee Chairman Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., said, “EPA expects pork producers to abide by the law, and rightfully so. Pork Producers also expect EPA to do likewise.”
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