Court clears way for biodiesel, RFS2 implementation

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Dec. 22 -  The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the petition by the National Petrochemical Refiners Association and the American Petroleum Institute challenging implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) and removing another uncertainty for the biodiesel industry.

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In a 40-page ruling, the three-judge panel said the EPA correctly did what it's required to do by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which calls for an expansion of the renewable-fuel program. The rules must be complied with by Feb. 28, 2011. Joining Judge Roberts in the unanimous decision were Circuit Judges Ginsburg and Garland.


Petitioners contended three issues:


1.      The RFS2 final regulation violated the statutory requirements setting separate biomass-based diesel volume requirements for 2009 and 2010.


2.      The RFS2 final regulation was impermissibly retroactive.


3.      The RFS2 violated appropriate statutory lead time and compliance provisions.


“The NBB is obviously pleased with the Court's unanimous decision,” stated Manning Feraci, the National Biodiesel Board's (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs.  “This wholly validates the U.S. biodiesel industry's legal position and sends a clear, unambiguous signal to the marketplace that the common-sense renewable goals established in the RFS2 program will be met.” 


The ruling means that refiners will have to meet a requirement that they have used 1.15 billion gallons of biodiesel by the end of this year. Under a 2007 energy law, refiners were mandated to use 500 million gallons of biodiesel and 650 million gallons this year, but the Environmental Protection Agency decided to combine the volume from both years into a single requirement.

“This retroactive regulation by a federal agency establishes a deeply troubling and potentially far-reaching precedent,” said Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association in a statement. “We're disappointed that the court did not overturn what is clearly a flawed and misguided approach toward implementation of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard. Regardless of the court's ruling, however, NPRA and its members remain committed to working towards the overall implementation of the RFS program.”


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