AFPM challenges RFS rule, court consolidates 3 RFS challenges

Source: By Erin Voegele, Biomass Magazine • Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On Feb. 10, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the U.S. EPA’s recent renewable fuel standard (RFS) rulemaking, which sets volume requirements for 2014, 2015, and 2016, along with a 2017 renewable volume obligation (RVO) for biomass-based diesel.

“Despite the agency’s best efforts, certain aspects of the final RFS rule still run afoul of the Clean Air Act,” said Chet Thompson, president of the AFPM. “Among other things, EPA failed to provide obligated parties with requisite lead time and used flawed methodologies in establishing volume requirements. This rule further confirms that the RFS program is dysfunctional and that the only real solution is full repeal by Congress.”

AFPM is not the only group challenging the EPA’s recent RFS rule. On Jan. 8,Americans for Clean Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, and Renewable Fuels Association filed a similar challenge. Among other things, the petitioners said they intend to demonstrate that the EPA’s interpretation of its general waiver authority under the RFS statute was contrary to the statute.

“By focusing on fuel distribution capacity and demand rather than supply, and by failing to consider surplus [renewable identification numbers (RINs)] from prior years, the agency erroneously concluded that there was an inadequate supply of renewable fuel to justify a waiver of the levels established by Congress,” said the biofuel and ag groups in the statement, noting they also plan to point out other fundamental flaws and inconsistencies in the government’s rule.

In mid-January, AFPM filed a motion to intervene in the RFS lawsuit filed by the ag and biofuel groups. DuPont, which owns and operates a cellulosic ethanol plant, also filed a motion to intervene on Feb. 5, followed by petroleum-refiner Monroe Energy LLC on Feb. 8.

On Feb. 9, Monroe Energy filed a separate challenge to the RFS rule with the court. The following day, on Feb. 10, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit filed an order consolidating the challenges filed by AFPM and Monroe Energy with the original challenge filed by the ag and biofuel groups in January.