NBB challenges standing in RFS lawsuits, seeks end to litigation

By The National Biodiesel Board | June 23, 2014

The National Biodiesel Board has filed a petition challenging the legal standing of Monroe Energy in its lawsuit contesting the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Since the RFS program began in July of 2010, the petroleum sector has proposed a number of legal theories to eliminate or undermine EPA’s required annual standard setting.

It is past time for the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to make petroleum companies prove that they have standing to mount their annual challenges to all aspects of the RFS.

We know that obligated parties challenge EPA’s annual standards every year. While almost all of those challenges have been rejected, they consume substantial public and private resources and create uncertainty and frustrate Congress's goals. In order to cut down on these increasingly wasteful challenges, NBB believes that the courts should be more vigilant about applying the rules that govern who can bring lawsuits—in particular, the rule that requires challengers to put on evidence that judicial relief will redress their alleged injuries. In this case, Monroe Energy ultimately complained that it is being injured by what private parties are doing with their own RINs. Because Monroe Energy did not put on any proof that judicial relief would affect those other parties’ behavior, NBB believes the DC Circuit should have dismissed Monroe Energy’s petition, and NBB has asked the Court to reconsider its ruling on that basis.

“If the Court had determined that the petroleum sector is actually required to establish standing, then the Monroe Energy case would never have consumed so much of the court's time and EPA’s time—which would have allowed the EPA to focus on implementation of the program, rather than defending these unnecessary lawsuits,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at NBB, the industry trade association. “It’s clear, the EPA has a difficult time implementing the annual standard setting process and it is continually sidetracked by meaningless legal challenges. We would like to see more coordination between all affected industries.”  

Biodiesel—which had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons—is made from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. It is the only domestic, EPA-designated advanced biofuel produced on a commercial scale across the country. The EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry supported more than 62,000 jobs in 2013.

“Once again we see petroleum prices on the rise due to international instability," Steckel added. “We need diversity in our fuels market, including in the diesel sector, to lessen our vulnerability to these price spikes, and the RFS is accomplishing that. These annual legal challenges to the RFS add costs to consumer’s bottom line and impedes progress on making advanced biofuels like biodiesel available in all markets.”

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