Biofuel groups go to court over RFS goals

Seven pro-biofuel organizations are challenging the U.S. EPA's changes to the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program in court. The court case was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last week.

Biofuel organizations involved in this court filing are the Americans for Clean Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers and the Renewable Fuels Association.

These critics of EPA's decision "say the agency failed to correctly interpret its waiver authority under the RFS law," wrote Tiffany Stecker, an E&E news reporter.

Stecker explained EPA's interpretation. "The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which expanded the RFS to boost biofuels production to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022, allows EPA to waive the yearly statutory biofuel blending goals if those targets are unrealistic," she wrote.

As of November, EPA raised year-on-year ethanol volumes through 2016 but cut back from the levels Congress mandated under the 2007 actions for the RFS.

The lawsuit centers on whether the EPA has the right to change the RFS goals because the oil refiners and petroleum industry refuses to use biofuels—because of not including more than 10 percent ethanol in gasoline and not establishing an infrastructure for more biofuels use. Those suing contend the biofuels industry is able to produce sufficient biofuel to meet original RFS goals, and that changing the volumes to be used under the RFS can only be waived if biofuels production isn't meeting goals for use.

Of course, the conventional petroleum industry is supporting EPA's right to change RFS goals.