Growth Energy Motions to Intervene in Endangered Species Act RFS Lawsuit

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Ethanol interest group Growth Energy has filed a motion with a federal appeals court to intervene in a federal lawsuit seeking to vacate EPA’s June 2022 final Renewable Fuel Standard rule.

The Center for Biological Diversity alleged in a petition filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the agency failed to conduct an Endangered Species Act review of the RFS rule.

Since the CBD filed its petition in July, seven other similar petitions have been filed and consolidated into one case.

“Given the statements of issues and motion for summary vacatur that some petitioners have already filed, as well as arguments petitioners raised on the proposed 2022 rule and in litigation challenging prior RFS rules, Growth Energy expects that petitioners will challenge the 2022 rule on grounds that will seek to reduce the required volumes or percentage standards,” the group said in its motion.

“Because the volumes and percentage standards mandate the national level of demand for renewable fuels, any reduction in the final percentage standards resulting from this litigation would reduce demand for the products that Growth Energy’s members develop and sell, harming their businesses and their substantial investments in facilities, materials, and technologies used in the production of renewable fuel.

The CBD asked the court to vacate the latest rule for fear it is damaging endangered species habitats.

In June, EPA finalized an RFS package that made retroactive cuts to corn ethanol for 2020 and set corn ethanol at below 15 billion gallons also for 2021.

The Biden administration, however, restored corn ethanol to 15 billion gallons for 2022, with total biofuel gallons set at 20.63 billion gallons. The 2022 number was set slightly lower than the proposed 20.77 billion gallons in December 2021.

Despite pleas from the ethanol industry, EPA reset lower corn-ethanol volumes at 12.5 billion gallons for the COVID-19 shutdown year of 2020. The agency retroactively cut nearly 3 billion gallons from 2020’s total biofuel gallons, finalized at 17.13 billion gallons.

EPA also added a 250-million-gallon “supplemental obligation” to the volumes proposed for 2022. The agency said it intends to add another 250 million gallons in 2023 to address the remand of the 2014 to 2016 annual rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In addition, EPA officially denied all pending small-refinery exemptions to the RFS and announced a proposed rulemaking to change the exemptions process.

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

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

|