Court decision released on case against 2015 RFS

By Lisa Gibson | July 28, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released a decision July 28 addressing the case brought against the U.S. EPA over the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard Final Rule, which set renewables regulations for 2014 through 2017. The court agreed with the petitioners that the EPA erred in how it interpreted the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver provision.

Petitioners include the Renewable Fuels Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Farmers Union and the National Sorghum Producers, collectively referred to in the case as Americans for Clean Energy. The case was argued April 24.

Some of the petitioners’ challenges to the RFS contend that EPA set the renewable fuel requirements too high, while others argue EPA set the renewable fuel requirements too low. All but the waiver challenge were rejected by the court.

The court decision states:

“We hold that the ‘inadequate domestic supply’ provision authorizes EPA to consider supply-side factors affecting the volume of renewable fuel that is available to refiners, blenders, and importers to meet the statutory volume requirements. It does not allow EPA to consider the volume of renewable fuel that is available to ultimate consumers or the demand-side constraints that affect the consumption of renewable fuel by consumers. We therefore grant Americans for Clean Energy’s petition for review of the 2015 Final Rule, vacate EPA’s decision to reduce the total renewable fuel volume requirements for 2016 through use of its ‘inadequate domestic supply’ waiver authority, and remand the rule to EPA for further consideration in light of our decision. We otherwise deny the petitions for review.”

Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO, said in a July 28 statement, “We are still reviewing the decision, but the fact the court has affirmed our position that EPA abused its general waiver authority by including factors such as demand and infrastructure in a waiver intended to be based solely on available supply is a great victory for consumers and the RFS program.”