Stand Up for the RFS; Don't Forget to Comment

By Erin Voegele | January 31, 2013

The petroleum industry is continuing its campaign to dismantle and repeal the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The Environmental Working Group, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, ActionAid, FarmEcon LLC, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Taxpayers for Common Sense are set to hold yet another media call on Monday attacking the federal RFS program specifically—and the U.S. biorefining industry in general.

It seems that Big Oil may be buoyed by last week’s decision by the D.C. Circuit court to strike down the 2012 RFS cellulosic volume requirement. However, that “victory” isn’t as significant as it may seem. While I am certainly not a lawyer, the legal and regulatory analysis I have seen on the court’s decision seem to boil down to the EPA potentially making a rather small tweak in its process to set yearly volume requirements for cellulosic fuels.

Essentially, the court said that it believes that the EPA had set the cellulosic requirement with the goal of promoting growth in the industry, rather than making actual predictions. The court, however, has allowed for the volume requirement to be maintained so long as the EPA demonstrates that the information available at the time it set the standard supported the conclusion that the volume was reasonably achievable. The other arguments made by the American Petroleum Institute that aimed to dismantle the RFS were rejected by the court.

Less than a week following the court’s decision, the EPA released proposed rules for the 2013 volume requirements, as well as a proposal to ensure RIN integrity. Clearly, the EPA is moving forward with implementing, and improving, the RFS program.

However, attacks from the petroleum industry are likely to continue. Each of the two EPA proposals introduced today will be open for public comments following publication in the Federal Register; the 2013 volume requirements for 45 days, and the RIN integrity proposal for 30. I encourage to you make your voice heard. Don’t forget to comment.