Biofuel groups intervene in legal challenge to RFS rule

By Erin Voegele | October 03, 2022

Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and Clean Fuels Alliance America have filed motions in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit to intervene in support of the U.S. EPA’s rule to set 2020, 2021 and 2022 Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations. The rule is being challenged by the Center for Biological Diversity and several oil companies.

The agency on June 3 released a final rule that set RFS renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2021 and 2022 at 18.84 billion gallons and 20.63 billion gallons, respectively. The rule also revised the previously finalized RVO for 2020. The 2020 RVO was originally set at 20.09 billion gallons but was reduced to 17.13 billion gallons by the agency in its July 3 rule.

The Center for Biological Diversity on July 20 filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals claiming the EPA has failed to fully assess the impacts to endangered species from land conversion and additional pesticide and fertilizer used to meet the RVOs. A variety of oil and fuel companies are also challenging the rule on different grounds. The court has consolidated several lawsuits, include those filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sinclair Wyoming Refining Co. LLC, Sinclair Casper Refining Co. LLC, Iogen Corp., Iogen D3 Biofuels Partners II LLC, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Refining Group Inc., Calumet Montana Refining LLC, Calumet Shreveport Refining LLC, Ergon Refining Inc., Ergon-West Virginia Inc., Hunt Refining Co., Par Hawaii Refining LLC, Placid Refining Co. LLC, San Joaquin Refining Co. Inc., U.S. Oil & Refining Co., Wyoming Refining Co., The San Antonio Refinery LLC, Waste Management Inc., WM Renewable Energy LLC, and Wynnewood Refining Co. LLC.

The RFA and Clean Fuels filed motions to intervene in support of the EPA on Sept. 29, followed by Growth Energy on Sept. 30. In its filing, the RFA said it “seeks to intervene in this case in order to protect its substantial interest in the integrity of the [RFS] program and the investments RFA’s members have made in renewable fuels to support the program.” Clean Fuels made similar statements in its filing, noting that its members would be adversely impacted by any action to reduce required RFS RVOs.

Growth Energy issued a statement on Oct. 3 discussing the motion to intervene and speaking out in support of the forward-looking RVOs contained in the July 3 rule. “By setting the 2022 RVO at 15 billion gallons, EPA set a baseline for strong future blending levels under the RFS, ensuring drivers have access to lower-cost, lower-carbon fuel at the pump,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “After drivers saw record-high fuel prices at the pump earlier this year and witnessed a volatile global fuel supply, we should be blending more low-cost biofuels into our fuel supply, not less. We support EPA’s efforts to mitigate climate change and lower prices at the pump through robust RVOs and look forward to continuing our work with them to ensure a strong RVO in 2023 in beyond.”

The American Petroleum Institute also filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the EPA with the court on Aug. 29. Currently, the EPA has until Oct. 7 to file its response with the court. The agency, however, filed a motion on Sept. 30 seeking to extend that deadline until Oct. 28.



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