Court Orders EPA on 500M RFS Gallons

DC Appeals Court Requires EPA to File Reports Every 60 Days on Restoring Gallons

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A federal court this week ordered EPA to provide a status report every 60 days about efforts to restore 500 million gallons to the Renewable Fuel Standard. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- EPA will have to file a progress report every 60 days to a federal court on the agency's efforts to restore 500 million gallons of biofuels illegally waived from the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2016.

A coalition of agriculture and biofuels group had filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to force the EPA to fully comply with the mandate immediately.

The coalition, which includes the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and National Sorghum Producers, said in a statement on Wednesday they hope the court will hold EPA's feet to the fire.

"While we are disappointed by the court's order on our motion, we are glad to see that the court is holding EPA accountable by requiring it to submit a report every 60 days on the status of the court's remand on the improper waiver," the groups said.

"This time of transition provides EPA the opportunity to move boldly and address prior missteps when it comes to the need for a low-carbon future for our nation's fuel supply, adjusting quickly for the court-ordered remand would do just that. America's biofuel producers, rural communities and farm families look forward to working with EPA and the Biden administration to make progress on restoring integrity and growth to the RFS," the groups stated.

In 2017, the court ruled in Americans For Clean Energy v. EPA, that EPA had illegally waived the gallons from the 2016 RFS renewable volume obligations (RVO) and required the agency to restore them, which EPA has not yet done.

In EPA's 2020 RFS volume rule, the agency proposed a response to the court's mandate in the 2017 case.

During the past several months, the agency has cited difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic as one reason for the delay.

The court held EPA's interpretation of the "inadequate domestic supply" waiver provision "runs contrary to how the renewable fuel program is supposed to work."

A few months after the court's 2017 decision, the ag and biofuels lawsuit said, EPA acknowledged the "importance of implementing the court's mandate."

EPA's 2018 RVO rule stated there was considerable uncertainty about the number of available RINs because of the possible impact of an action to address the remand in ACE (Americans For Clean Energy).

One month later, EPA issued a notice acknowledging "some uncertainty" about available RINs "in light of the fact that the EPA has not yet indicated its intentions with respect to responding to the remand," according to the lawsuit.

In 2019, the groups urged EPA to "immediately address the D.C. Circuit's vacatur of EPA's general waiver of the 2016 total volume requirement," pointing out the agency could "easily remedy the vacatur by adding the 500 million RINs covered by the vacated general waiver to the total 2019 volume requirement."

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