AFPM challenges US renewable fuel rules in court

10 February 2016

Al Greenwood

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) has filed a petition with a US court, challenging the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS requires refiners and fuel importers to blend increasing volumes of biofuels each year for the US market. That includes cellulosic ethanol, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel.

The latest RFS set blending standards for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The programme is overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The AFPM filed the petition with the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. The petition is challenging the EPA's rulemaking for 2014-2016.

In a statement, AFPM President Chet Thompson said, “Despite the agency’s best efforts, certain aspects of the final RFS rule still run afoul of the Clean Air Act. Among other things, EPA failed to provide obligated parties with requisite lead time and used flawed methodologies in establishing volume requirements. This rule further confirms that the RFS programme is dysfunctional and that the only real solution is full repeal by Congress.” 

In November 2015, the EPA announced it had raised the amount of renewable fuels and biofuels to be blended into the nation's overall fuel supply, drawing fire from both the oil industry and environmental groups.

Under the finalised rule, renewable fuel volumes will rise from 16.28bn gal (61.62bn litres) in 2014 to 18.11bn gal in 2016.

While the rule sets higher volumes of renewable fuel for 2016 than originally put forward, the volumes are still significantly lower than the 22.25bn gal for 2016 first proposed in 2007.

Earlier this year, several biofuel industry groups filed their own petition seeking a review of the standard.

Organisations named on this petition include Americans for Clean Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

For this particular petition filed by the biofuel groups, the AFPM had intervened on behalf of the EPA. The AFPM explained that the biofuel companies were challenging the EPA's use of its waiver authority.

The AFPM said that the EPA exercised its legal right to use its waiver authority. The petition filed on Wednesday is a separate filing concerning a different issue.

Additional reporting by Christie Moffat.

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