Valero piles onto RFS challenges

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valero Energy Corp. is adding to the court challenges against U.S. EPA’s renewable fuel standard.

The oil refining company filed two separate lawsuits against the agency with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday. The first challenges the RFS for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016; the second takes aim at RFS rules from 2007 and 2010.

EPA in November released a final rule for 2014, 2015 and 2016 biofuel requirements. That rule calls for an increase in the number of gallons of corn ethanol, biodiesel and low-carbon “advanced” fuels that will be blended in transportation fuels, but set the standard below the goal set by Congress in a 2007 energy law (E&ENews PM, Nov 30, 2015).

Valero also filed a petition for reconsideration last week with EPA, challenging how the rule defines who is an “obligated party” under the RFS program.

Other oil companies and biofuel groups are also suing EPA over the new RFS in what’s expected to be a long legal battle over the standards.

Last week, an industry group representing refiners and petrochemicals manufacturers lodged its own lawsuit. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers said EPA hadn’t given stakeholders enough time to meet the requirements, among other complaints (E&ENews PM, Feb. 10).

And last month, seven pro-biofuel groups sued the agency, arguing that it improperly waived the biofuel blending goals set by Congress. The law allows EPA to waive the annual biofuel blending targets if they’re unrealistic.

In the latest standards, EPA used its waiver authority, citing the limited ability of oil refiners to blend and distribute biofuels. But biofuel groups contend that the waiver should only apply when the industry can’t produce enough biofuel (Greenwire, Jan. 11).