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Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Action on 2020-2022 Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the 2020-2022 Renewable Fuel Standard rule. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Renewable Fuel Standards set for 2020 to 2022 will stay in place after a federal appeals court on Tuesday denied review to a group of refining companies.

Numerous lawsuits were filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after it finalized RFS volumes for 2021 and 2022 by June 3, 2022. In addition, the EPA finalized a reset of already-finalized RFS volumes for 2020.

Once the volumes were finalized refining companies and biofuels interests filed lawsuits against the EPA on a number of fronts.

The cases were consolidated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court upheld EPA's action.

"Today, we resolve challenges to the standards for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022," the court said in its ruling.

"Once again, renewable fuel producers claim that EPA's standards are set too low, while petroleum refiners contend they are too high. We hold that EPA complied with the law and reasonably exercised its discretion in setting the renewable fuel requirements for the three years at issue. We therefore deny the petitions for review."

In a statement to DTN, the Renewable Fuels Association said it believes the court's decision puts the RFS on solid ground.

"Today's decision is a win for America's renewable fuel producers, farmers and consumers seeking lower-cost, lower-carbon fuels," RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said.

"The court's decision, which affirms EPA complied with the law and properly exercised its authority in setting these standards, will help set the tone for future RFS rulemakings and the long-term administration of the program. Specifically, we are pleased that the court confirmed EPA's approach to assessing certain statutory factors and considering the benefits of renewable fuels.

"Further, we are strongly encouraged by the court's confirmation of EPA's authority to account for potential small-refinery exemptions on a prospective basis when setting standards. Finally, we are pleased with the court's decision to uphold EPA's authority to impose a supplemental 250-million-gallon volume in 2022 to make up for the volume that EPA improperly waived in 2016. Taken together, today's court opinion sets some important precedents and puts the RFS on solid footing for the future."

A group of petroleum refining companies had alleged the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in setting what they called an "unprecedently high 2022 standard."

In setting the 2022 volumes EPA used projections of how much biofuels volumes would likely be exempted from the RFS. The refiners contended that such a projection was illegal.

In the RFS 2020-2022 rule, the EPA attempted to project the volume of renewable fuel likely to be exempted through the small-refinery exemption process.

In addition, in that RFS proposal the EPA restored 250 million of 500 million gallons of biofuels found by a court to have been illegally waived from the RFS.

Read more on DTN:

"EPA Proposes Corn-Ethanol Cuts to RFS," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @DTNeeley

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