Producer groups jump into oil industry lawsuit over 2013 RFS targets

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Three biofuels trade groups have asked a federal court to allow them to intervene on behalf of U.S. EPA in a lawsuit by the oil industry over the agency’s 2013 renewable fuel targets.The Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association on Friday filed their request to formally intervene. A refiner and two oil industry trade groups have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review whether the agency’s targets were realistic given market conditions.In their court filing, the biofuels groups argued that they should be allowed to intervene in the case because their members, which are mostly biofuel companies, are directly involved in the federal renewable fuel program. Their companies have made investments in equipment, research and development pertaining to biofuels largely because of the targets set by the renewable fuel standard.

“Proposed intervenors’ members benefit from the RFS program and depend on its continued stability,” the filing said.

The court has allowed biofuels groups to intervene in previous oil industry lawsuits challenging aspects of EPA’s implementation of the RFS. An expedited briefing schedule set by the court last week already anticipates that groups will intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of EPA (Greenwire, Oct. 30).

Last month, the court consolidated separate lawsuits filed by Delta Air Lines subsidiary Monroe Energy LLC, the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers that all challenged the 2013 targets. The standard that EPA finalized for this year requires refiners to blend 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels into petroleum-based motor fuel; of that, 6 million ethanol-equivalent gallons must come from cellulosic biofuel.

In their complaints, the oil industry groups argued that the overall target exceeds the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the nation’s fuel supply and that the cellulosic number was unrealistic given the small volume that producers have generated so far. They also noted that EPA released its final targets more than eight months beyond the statutory deadline set by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.

“EPA’s unrealistic ethanol mandates for 2013 are simply bad public policy,” said Harry Ng, API vice president and general counsel, in a statement last month (E&ENews PM, Oct. 8).