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Federal Court Finds EPA's RFS Methodology Flawed

12:08PM Aug 01, 2017

Truck driver loads a tanker trailer bound for a refinery in Montana with ethanol.( Daniel Acker, Bloomberg )

A hearing is set to begin Tuesday morning to discuss how much biofuel will be blended into the nation's gasoline supply for the next two years. The hearing occurring days after a federal court determined EPA’s methodology used to determine past levels is flawed. 

The EPA issued its proposed volume requirements (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) four weeks ago. The next step is the comment period, which kicks off Tuesday morning and coincides with a hearing on the volume levels for 2018-and 2019.

The EPA levels ultimately determine ethanol and biodiesel production in the United States. Past RFS levels were highly disputed by renewable fuels groups, with RFS proponents claiming EPA’s levels missed the mark. Friday, a federal appeals court sided with those groups, striking down EPA’s methodology for levels set in 2014 to 2016.

Farm Journal Washington correspondent Jim Wiesemeyer tells AgDay, based on EPA’s statements, he does not think Friday’s court decision will impact the Tuesday’s hearing or the agency's proposed targets 

“The hearing on Tuesday will have remarks during people’s comments about this court ruling, but EPA said it should not impact the proposed levels for 2018 and 2019, because they didn't use the waiver to come up with those announced obligations,” said Wiesemeyer.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauded the court's ruling, calling it a “win for farmers.” 

“The ruling affirms our view that the EPA did not follow the law when it reduced the 2014-2016 renewable fuel volumes below levels intended by Congress,” NCGA said in a statement. “The court held that EPA was wrong to interpret the phrase ‘inadequate domestic supply’ to mean ‘inadequate domestic supply and demand.’ We agree with the Court that effectively adding words to the law through the interpretation simply exceeds EPA’s authority.” 

Wiesemeyer says the agency will need to make up a 500 million gallon short-fall due to the numbers. It’s still unknown if the EPA will appeal the case.

Watch the entire story Tuesday morning on AgDay.

8/1/17 RVO Hearing