An Entertaining 101 on Issues Impacting the Renewable Fuel Standard

Season of Giving: 5th Circuit Overturns EPA’s Retroactive SRE Denials

December 11, 2023

Did you know that if you totaled up all the birds and pear trees given in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, there would be 184 birds and 12 trees? Speaking of gifting others, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently gave refiners the “gift” of withdrawing EPA’s denial of small refinery exemptions (SREs) for six different refineries.   How did this “gift” come to be? In 2022, EPA made headlines twice when it retroactively overturned SRE petitions that had already been granted. In April 2022, EPA retroactively denied 36 SRE petitions from 36 different small refineries that had... Read More →

Certainties in a Season of Change: Chemoil Corp. v. U.S.

November 6, 2023

My dad was the person in my family handing down the life lessons. One thing that I heard probably more than anything else was that there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the fact that everything changes. Turns out he was right…though it will be a very long time before I tell him that…Speaking of taxes, recently, Chemoil Corp. ran into one of the more certain things in life. I know, I know, taxes….blech. I promise, however, to give you a scintillating tale of a tax credit, a bad actor, and a court case.  I am certain... Read More →

Ghosts and Goblins! Office of Inspector General Releases Audit Report on Fraud Potential Within the RFS

October 11, 2023

It’s spooky season! A time filled with ghosts and goblins and…a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on fraud potential within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Recently, OIG completed an audit of the RFS to identify areas of improvement to prevent opportunities for RIN fraud. The words “fraud” and “Renewable fuel Standard” or “RINs” used in the same sentence can be a little scary. I’ll admit it. When this report was first published, before I had read it, I passed it on to my boss with the message: “This doesn’t look good.” Even some of the headlines that... Read More →

Lawsuits in the Fall: EPA Subject to Lawsuit Brought by Center for Biological Diversity

September 11, 2023

September in Iowa is just starting to feel a bit like fall. I am so ready for comfy socks, oversized sweatshirts, pumpkin spice, and the feeling of impending lawsuits…wait, what? EPA has recently “fallen” subject to many lawsuits filed by many different entities from several different market positions, but this post is going to focus on the one between EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity. Recently, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit against EPA for the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) “Set” rule released this past June. More specifically, CBD is... Read More →

Small Refineries and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day(s): EPA Denies 26 Small Refinery Exemptions; D.C. Circuit Court Dismisses Cases Challenging EPA’s Compliance Schedule

August 8, 2023

I think there needs to be a book like “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” but for adults. Maybe, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Adulting,” complete with an accurate description of the 40-hour work week, taxes, and what paying student loans feels like. Given recent events, small refineries might be able to relate to either book. Within the past month, EPA has made a couple of decisions that have gained a fair amount of attention. First, EPA denied 26 Small Refinery Exemptions (SRE) petitions between the years 2016-2018 and 2021-2023. Second, the... Read More →

The Grand Finale: EPA Releases Final “Set” Rule

July 11, 2023

The thing that everyone has been talking about for the past few months has finally happened. *Cue the drumroll please* EPA released the final “Set” rule. Boasting nearly 500 pages, the final “Set” rule included several provisions, such as: the formal withdrawal of eRINs from the final rule, new Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2023-2025, EPA setting a precedent for releasing RVOs every three years, an amendment to the separated food waste record-keeping rule, biogas reform rules, and many other provisions. Don’t worry, I read all 468 pages so that you don’t have to experience the absolute joy of reading... Read More →

Changing Its Mind: EPA to Withdraw eRINs from Final “Set” Rule

June 14, 2023

Have you ever done something and then, upon introspection, changed your mind? Committed to going out on a Friday night when you really wanted to stay in with your fuzzy slippers, security blanket, and a TV series that you’ve seen 100 times, perhaps? EPA might know a little about this with the recent chatter about it withdrawing its proposed eRIN program as part of the upcoming “Set” rule. Last December, EPA published a massive “Set” proposal, which included provisions for eRINs. Under the proposed “Set” rule, eRINs would be rolled into the existing regulations within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).... Read More →

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 →

Falling Down and Getting Up: The Next Generation Fuels Act Reintroduced in Congress

April 12, 2023

Growing up as a competitive figure skater taught me valuable life lessons that I have taken with me into adulthood. For example, don’t open your eyes when your mom is spraying hairspray, remember to drink your water, and most importantly, if you fall, get back up and try again. Trying again is a good way to phrase the recent reintroduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act into Congress Oh neat, Congress is doing something and tagging on to the Clean Air Act. Actually, the proposed pieces of legislation are a little bit heftier than that. The body of legislation aims... Read More →

She Blinded Me With Science! EPA Releases Third Triennial Report on RFS

March 14, 2023

Why can’t you trust an atom? Because they make up everything! …I bet I’m the only one here that appreciates a good science joke…Did you know that there are times when science and policy collide within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)? Like nuclear fission, this collision of science and policy has the potential to energize the RFS, moving it forward. How does it do that? By the release of the “Biofuels and the Environment Third Triennial Report to Congress (the “Report”). Under the Energy and Independence Security Act (EISA), EPA is required to report on the effects the RFS has... Read More →