U.S. Ethanol and SAF Industry Leaders Seek to Intervene in Legal Challenge to EU Sustainable Aviation Fuel Regulation

Leaders of the U.S. ethanol industry are seeking to intervene in a legal challenge of the ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation, which effectively bans the use of renewable, crop-based biofuels like corn ethanol as a feedstock for decarbonizing the aviation sector. Collaborating in the intervention are the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and LanzaJet. Earlier this year, LanzaJet opened the world’s first ethanol-to-jet biorefinery, in Georgia.

The application to intervene in the proceedings supports a challenge brought by ePURE, a trade association representing European ethanol producers, and Pannonia Bio, one of Europe’s largest ethanol producers. Their application seeks to annul the relevant provisions of the ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation, which was adopted by the EU in 2023 and is set to take effect in 2025. A similar challenge was brought against the FuelEU Maritime Regulation, and members of the U.S. ethanol industry are seeking to intervene there, as well.

With regard to the new petition, the groups argue it will have a detrimental effect on the U.S. ethanol industry.

“[T]he Contested Provisions give rise to a de facto ban on the supply of crop-based biofuels to the aviation sector in the EU,” the organizations argue.

“Due to the substantial difference in cost between biofuels and fossil fuels in the EU – which the Regulation expressly acknowledged – aviation fuel suppliers will not purchase biofuels instead of fossil fuels unless they are obliged or incentivised to do so. Since using crop-based biofuels will not help aviation fuel suppliers meet their obligations under the Regulation, they will not purchase those biofuels.”