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D.C. Court of Appeals Finds in Favor of NBB’s Arguments in 2014-16 RFS Litigation

Jul 28, 2017
Americans for Clean Energy, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency


 Contact: Rosemarie Calabro Tully

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released its decision regarding several questions related the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014-16. The court sided with NBB on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation and use of its general waiver authority under the RFS statute.  It also rejected continued attempts by the obligated parties to limit growth in biomass-based diesel, which NBB intervened on behalf of EPA.

Today’s decision from the D.C. Circuit is welcome reassurance that EPA has the authority to increase volumes of biomass-based diesel. We must do so to advance the goals of the law. And as co-petitioners to the general waiver authority argument, we were pleased to see the court agreeing with our arguments,” said Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer at the National Biodiesel Board. 

Various groups were seeking to force changes to the fuel volumes required for compliance years 2014-16 and the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2014-2017. Several cases were consolidated into the one decided on today.

On the question of biomass-based diesel volumes, the court sided with NBB and EPA, rejecting the arguments by obligated parties that EPA did not have authority to increase the biomass-based diesel volume because it missed statutory deadlines. The court held that the agency had authority and acted reasonably.

NBB joined various ethanol groups on arguments related to EPA’s general waiver authority. The court agreed with NBB and rejected EPA’s interpretation of “inadequate domestic supply,” finding it inappropriate to consider issues of demand.

The RFS—a bipartisan policy passed in 2005 and signed into law by President George W. Bush—requires increasing volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel stream. The law is divided into two broad categories: conventional biofuels, which must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, and advanced biofuels, which must have a 50 percent reduction. Biodiesel is the first advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide and has made up the vast majority of advanced biofuel production under the RFS to date.

Made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement used in existing diesel engines. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel, qualifying it as an advanced biofuel under the RFS.


For more about the National Biodiesel Board, visit www.nbb.org