Giant Appeals Court Victory For Biofuels

Jim Lane

As DuPont’s (DD)
Jan Koninckx put it in his understated way, Friday was “a good day
for biofuels.”

But it was the biggest victory in the courts for biofuels, ever.

Specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Americans for Clean Energy and
other renewable fuels advocates, agreeing with the petitioners
that the Environmental Protection Agency erred in how it
interpreted and used the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver in
the Renewable Fuel Standard law in setting low renewable fuel
volumes for 2014-2016.

In Americans for Clean Energy et al v. Environmental Protection
Agency, the Court vacated EPA’s decision to reduce the total
renewable fuel volume requirement in 2016 and remanded the rule to
EPA for further consideration.

It’s
here.

The background

In late May 2015, the EPA weighed in with staggeringly weak RFS
volumetric proposals for 2014 through 2016, based on an arcane
theory of “supply” vs. “demand” that the Court of Appeals found
ridiculous. At the time, the industry was aghast, and responded
with more than 200,000 comments. Among them, dire remarks like
“POET expects to stop all future U.S. cellulosic investments if
EPA’s proposed base renewable fuel requirements are not
strengthened.”

And BIO’s Brent Erickson warned:

“EPA continues to assert authority
under the general waiver provision to reduce biofuel volumes
based on available infrastructure. This is a point that will
have to be litigated. It goes against Congressional intent. EPA
has proposed higher volumes for advanced biofuels, still below
the statutory volumes, but maintained a methodology that
discourages investment in the industry. That will likely
undercut future production, requiring additional cuts to volumes
in future.”

And so, industry sued. And now, as Judge Kavanaugh writes in his
unanimous opinion:

EPA noted that the Renewable Fuel
Program’s requirements were…

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