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Coalition Goes to Court Over Biofuel Waivers

Cindy Zimmerman

A coalition of seven agricultural and biofuels organizations is seeking court action to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for lost biofuel volumes resulting from small refinery exemptions granted by the agency.

The coalition consisting of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Growth Energy (Growth), National Biodiesel Board (NBB), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), and National Farmers Union (NFU) had petitioned EPA for redress on this issue in June 2018 but has received no response from the agency. In the petition filed this week, they are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to lift a stay it placed on the joint 2018 petition asking the court to protect the renewable fuels industry from undue harm caused by EPA.

The coalition had asked for the stay to give EPA time to review its request to reconsider its current regulations. EPA’s response never arrived, but EPA’s statements and actions over the past 13 months indicate that EPA has effectively denied the request. Not content to wait further, the coalition asked the court to step in and restart proceedings.

“Thirteen months have passed since the filing of the petition, without even a proposed substantive response from EPA,” the motion states. “Meanwhile, the Agency has shown through various actions that it is not genuinely considering the Coalition’s administrative petition and has in effect denied it.”

Most of the organizations in the coalition were represented at a public hearing Wednesday in Ypsilanti, Michigan on the proposed rule to set 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) and the 2021 RVO for biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Much of the comments from both sides of the issues centered on whether or not EPA should account for renewable fuel volumes waived under small refinery exemptions.

Among those who testified was Renewable Fuels Association chief economist Scott Richman, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Communications Director Katie Fletcher, and National Biodiesel Board Chairman Kent Engelbrecht, Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik, and Chief Operating Officer Doug Whitehead.

RFA chief economist Scott Richman hearing testimony

ACE Communications Director Katie Fletcher hearing testimony

National Biodiesel Board hearing testimony

ACE, Audio, Biodiesel, Biofuels, Corn, Ethanol, NCGA, RFA