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Court of Appeals today rules against cellulosic biofuel standard, upholds advanced biofuel standard

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today vacated the 2012 cellulosic biofuel standard, but affirmed the 2012 advanced biofuel standard. Biofuels associations weigh in on the rulings.

 

In a ruling today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit  vacated the 2012 cellulosic biofuel standard, but affirmed the 2012 advanced biofuel standard. “Although we disagree with the court’s decision vacating the 2012 cellulosic volumes, today’s decision once again rejects broad-brushed attempts to effectively roll back the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” said several biofuel organizations in a joint statement. These organizations include the Advanced Biofuels Association, Advanced Ethanol Council, American Coalition for Ethanol, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association.

The organizations reported that the court vacated the cellulosic biofuel standard because it believed that EPA had impermissibly set the volume with the objective of promoting growth in the industry rather than simply making an accurate prediction. The biofuels organizations argued that the EPA set the volume based on the best information available at the time. They added that under the court’s decision, “EPA is free to reinstate the volumes that it had established, as long as the information available at the time would support the agency’s conclusion that those volumes were reasonably achievable. The court’s decision does not now require, or permit, EPA to set volumes based on hindsight.”

Although the court vacated the cellulosic standard, it also rejected the argument by the American (API) Petroleum Institute that EPA was required to follow the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s projections in setting its own, the biofuel organizations reported. “Similarly, the court rejected API’s argument that EPA was not entitled to consider information from cellulosic biofuel producers in setting its projection, finding that cellulosic producers were, of course, an almost inevitable source of information for EPA.” According to the biofuel organizations, these were important decisions that give EPA flexibility in setting cellulosic biofuel volumes.

The Circuit Court affirmed the EPA’s decision not to reduce the advanced biofuel volume, rejecting API’s arguments that EPA must support its decision not to reduce the applicable volume of advanced biofuels with specific numerical projections.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) stated that it applauded the affirmation of the advanced biofuels standard under the RFS.

 

"This is just the latest in a series of cases in which the oil industry has tried unsuccessfully to re-litigate the standards for renewable fuels, and it is yet another victory for our nation's shift toward cleaner, more diverse energy supplies," said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. "The fact is that the RFS is a very effective program for improving U.S. energy security, creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working constructively with our partners in the petroleum industry to meet these goals moving forward."

 

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