Category: Court Cases

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 →

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 →

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 →