Ag Policy Blog
Todd Neeley DTN Staff Reporter

Monday 11/04/13

Biofuels Groups ask to Intervene in RFS Lawsuit

A number of national biofuels trade groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Nov. 1 to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit that attempts to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to scale back 2013 volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The suit filed by Monroe Energy, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers on Oct. 16, the groups ask the court to consider whether the volumes set by EPA were set in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner in the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association filed a motion to intervene.

"Moreover, a reduction in the volumetric requirement for any one type of renewable fuel under the RFS could affect the demand for other types of renewable fuels," the groups said in their motion.

"Proposed intervenors have a substantial interest in these cases because their members participate in the Renewable Fuel Standard program, are subject to the challenged final rule, and will be affected by the outcome of this case."

The lawsuit asked the court to consider a number of issues related to the setting of the 2013 volumes.

They make the case that the RFS volumes should be changed because law "required obligated parties to demonstrate the blending of a greater volume of renewable fuel into gasoline than the economy is capable of consuming."

Among other things they say the RFS should be scaled back because it "obligated refiners and importers of petroleum to demonstrate that unrelated third parties known as blenders, to whom refiners and importers sell a petroleum product known as blendstock have blended the required volume of renewable fuels into blendstock."

In January the same court upheld EPA's authority to set advanced and cellulosic biofuel volume obligations at the maximum achievable level.

Also, EPA announced Nov. 1 that it would issue a final rule on the 2014 RFS volumes.

Federal lawmakers, oil industry and food groups have been pressing the agency to make a reduction in the RFS for next year.

Just last week a bipartisan group of more than 130 U.S. lawmakers led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., drafted a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking EPA to adjust down the RFS.

"Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of the RFS, its premise and structure were based on many assumptions that no longer reflect the current market conditions, and the imposition of the 2014 volumes now threatens to cause economic and environmental harm," the letter states.

In an email sent out to ask lawmakers to sign on, it lists a number of interest groups supporting a change to the RFS including the American Meat Institute, the American Petroleum Institute and a number of other poultry, dairy and taxpayer groups.

"As you are aware, the U.S. corn market has been increasingly volatile since the expansion of the RFS in 2007," the letter states.

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Posted at 11:16AM CST 11/04/13 by Todd Neeley
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