Category: Court Cases

A Fishy Situation: SCOTUS to Overturn Chevron v. NRDC

May 9, 2023

You would think, by now, that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) would be used to handling “fishy” situations. Afterall, the most senior court in the all the land casts a pretty wide jurisdictional “net.” In a current case before SCOTUS, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, (Loper), a commercial fishing company challenges the federal agency responsible for the stewardships of marine resources. How could a commercial fishing company possibly have anything to do with the Renewable Fuel Standard? Since I’ve baited the hook so well, Loper directly challenges the precedent set in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council... Read More →

Being Thankful for Loopholes: Suncor v. EPA

November 9, 2022

The problem with Thanksgiving, is that it stands in the way of Christmas. However, in the spirit of the month, I can give a few things that I am thankful for: sweet potato pie, family, and the continual growth of streaming services. I know of another entity that might be a little thankful this month: Suncor Energy. Recently, the 10th Circuit vacated EPA’s decision to deny Suncor a Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) and remanded (returned) it back to EPA for further analysis. Very briefly, the facts are Suncor purchased two adjacent refineries from two distinct companies. While they are under the... Read More →

Aaaddrriiaann!!: Growth Energy Files Suit Against EPA For Alternative Compliance Approach

July 13, 2022

One classic that my parents instilled in my millennial self was the cinematic masterpiece Rocky. But somehow, screaming “Adrian” before getting into a fight with my brother never won me any points with my parents. #horsehockey. Where am I going with this? Recently, Growth Energy filed a lawsuit against EPA that, well, goes the distance. You might remember in April of this year, EPA denied 36 small refinery exemptions from the 2018 compliance year, 31 of which had already been granted. When EPA denied those exemptions, it afforded these small refineries an “alternative compliance approach.” Essentially, due to the fact... Read More →

The Last Dance: SCOTUS Issues the Decision for the 10th Circuit Case

July 21, 2021

In its final pirouette of this last dance, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) finally ruled on Holly Frontier et al. v. Renewable Fuels Association et al. from the 10th Circuit. While the decision was not the sweeping win some Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) participants were hoping for, it could have been worse. As you might recall, the case before the SCOTUS centered on three refineries being granted Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). To recap, here are the facts for each refiner that landed this case in the Supreme Court: Holly Frontier Cheyenne, LLC (“Cheyenne”): Cheyenne had been granted an exemption for the year 2012... Read More →

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 →

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 →

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 →