An Entertaining 101 on Issues Impacting the Renewable Fuel Standard

Pounding the Table and Yelling: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on the 10th Circuit Case

May 12, 2021

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.” -Carl Sandburg Recently, the United State Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments on the 10th Circuit case regarding EPA’s granting of three different extensions of Small Refiner Extensions (SREs). As you might recall, in order to be granted a small refiner exemption, a small refinery had to be considered “small” and had to have had experienced a disproportionate economic hardship. Further, once a refiner either failed to... Read More →

Providing Back-Up: Certain States File Amicus Brief in Small Refiner Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

April 14, 2021

A lawyer is the only person who writes a 21-page argument and calls it a “brief.” Sometimes, just one “brief” won’t do it. Recently, the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia, (“the States”) filed a brief as amici curiae, or, as it’s better known, an “amicus brief.” Before I go any further, let’s talk legal-ese for a moment. An amicus brief is filed by individuals or entities not party to the original case, but who have an interest in the outcome. It’s a little like saying, “hey, we know this isn’t our fight, but... Read More →

Winds of Change: EPA Announces Support of 10th Circuit Decision

March 10, 2021

The winds of change are blowing directly at EPA….and causing the agency to shift in a completely opposite direction. At the risk of speaking too soon, it looks like EPA might be returning to a pre-2016 narrower read of the regulations with respect to small refinery exemptions (SREs). Recently , EPA announced that after “careful consideration of the 2020 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA, 948 F.3d 1206 (“Decision”), EPA supports that court’s interpretation of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) small-refinery provisions.” EPA’s announcement follows the decision of the... Read More →

The Man with the Plan: Biden’s Pick for EPA Administrator Wants a More Thorough Review of Biofuels Policies

February 10, 2021

Sometimes, the only thing you need is Stan, the man with the plan…or in this case, Michael Regan. The Biden Administration’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to sit down with general counsel to go over the biofuels policy with respect to Small Refiner Exemptions (SREs). As many of you know, each new presidential administration is able to pick its own administrators. The head of the EPA, otherwise known as the EPA Administrator, is one such position. The person picked for this position is typically someone who can best enable the incoming administration’s environmental policy. As the... Read More →

Hulk Smash! The Importance of the Valero v. Sundive Lawsuit on the RIN Market

January 13, 2021

Sometimes, thing don’t happen the way that they should, and it makes others very angry. Valero Energy Corporation (“Valero”) is just a tiny bit mad at Sundive Commodity Group (“Sundive”). So mad, in fact, that Valero is suing Sundive over Sundive’s inability to procure RINs for Valero, forcing Valero to pay over $10 million more for RINs to meet their compliance obligation. #hulksmash So what actually happened in this case? Valero had about 100 contracts with Sundive for the purpose of securing RINs to meet Valero’s compliance obligation. Valero alleges, through the terms and conditions of these contracts, Sundive was... Read More →

Swing and a Miss! EPA Misses Statutory Deadline for Renewable Volume Obligations

December 9, 2020

Sometimes, it’s perfectly acceptable to be late. You stopped for coffee on your way to work and the line was long, but you needed your morning cup of joe so that people won’t mind it when you speak to them. You’re late, but for a worthy cause. Other times, people completely lose their minds when you’re even the tiniest bit late. EPA currently knows a little bit about this. By November 30 of any compliance year, EPA is supposed to have released the finalized rule for the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the upcoming compliance year. The proposed rule for... Read More →

Sinclair v. EPA: When the RFS Looks Like an Existential Crisis

November 18, 2020

Have you ever taken a moment to think: how did I even get here? This is probably what EPA thinks on a daily basis: how did we get here? Last month, I wrote on the 10th Circuit case where EPA was held accountable for granting small refiner exemptions to entities that didn’t necessarily qualify for the waiver. To be able to have such broad authority, EPA had to get it from somewhere: meet Sinclair v. EPA (2017). To be fair to you guys, I kind of put the chicken before the egg last month by talking about the 10th Circuit case first. Keep in... Read More →

Preventing Headaches and Heartbreaks: the 10th Circuit Court Decision on Small Refinery Exemptions

October 14, 2020

There are somethings that just should not be repeated: headaches, heartbreaks…global pandemics, the year 2020…too soon? The 10 Circuit Court case that happened earlier this year is not one of those things. **DISCLAIMER** If you do not know what a small refinery exemption is or you do not understand what an RVO is, you will not understand this article. There are several articles on this page to help you understand those concepts. Read those articles first and then come back to this one. It’s a good time, I promise. Sometimes, it’s ok to skip over the facts….just like candidates running for... Read More →

Much Ado About Something: Why Everyone is Yelling About SRE’s

September 16, 2020

There are some things that people do, and we just fail to understand why. Putting pineapple on pizza or thinking pickles with peanut butter is a good idea, for instance. Sometimes, granting an entity a Small Refiner Exemption (SRE) can be a lot like that. It’s a little weird and a bit strange. In this month’s article, I am going to talk, somewhat briefly, about the “why” portion of SRE’s and, more importantly, what’s all the yelling about? As I’ve discussed in a previous article, to receive a small refiner exemption, you had to be a small refiner and you... Read More →

Becoming the Outcast: The “What” Portion of the Small Refiner Exemption

August 19, 2020

What do car wrecks, hangnails, and Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) have in common? Nobody likes them. Well, ok, if you’re a participant in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and not a small refinery, you might not like SREs very much. But why, though? If you’re new to the RFS and you don’t have a good grasp of the industry, you might find all the hulabaloo a bit much. There is a lot that could be said about SREs, but for the moment, let’s discuss what they are first. There are two pieces to SRE’s. For the first piece, to even... Read More →