The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a brief Monday explaining its decision to deny a petition that would have exempted refiners from part of a biofuel blending mandate.
The documents filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reveal the reasoning behind EPA’s move to shoot down the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) challenge of the renewable fuel standard (RFS). EPA determined that enough advanced biofuels — generally understood to be made from non-food products — existed to meet that portion of the RFS for 2012.
“EPA reasonably considered the production capacity likely to be developed throughout the year, while API would have EPA rely narrowly and solely on proven past cellulosic biofuel production,” EPA said in its brief. “EPA reasoned that lowering the advanced biofuel volume in these circumstances would be inconsistent with EISA’s [the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007] energy security and greenhouse gas reduction goals, and decided to leave the statutory advanced biofuel volume unchanged.”
The EPA refused API’s request to get out of the RFS in May, inflaming the oil industry group and its Republican allies, who have said the RFS props up an industry that would not otherwise exist. They say EPA requires refiners to blend cellulosic biofuels — those made from non-edible feedstocks, such as yard waste or switchgrass — even though no such biofuels are produced domestically at commercial scale.
EPA’s argument for sticking with the RFS target might also play into GOP complaints that the agency is taking an activist approach to regulating carbon emissions.