WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following settlement discussions with Growth Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will file a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow seeking comment on a proposed judicial consent decree that would require EPA to finalize the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs), which are the subject of a pending rulemaking, by no later than June 3, 2022. EPA’s notice comes after Growth Energy filed multiple notices of intent to sue and a complaint in federal district court in response to the agency’s extended delay in issuing the RVOs, a direct violation of the deadlines established by Congress for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
“This agreement is a significant milestone for the biofuels industry and reflects Growth Energy’s persistent efforts to hold EPA accountable to its responsibilities under the RFS to issue timely RVOs and provide market certainty,” stated Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We are pleased that EPA has agreed to take this action.”
“Furthermore, we are hopeful that EPA’s agreement to submit to judicial oversight of a binding RVO deadline gives credence to the agency’s commitment to get the RFS back on track and provide regulated parties and the biofuels industry with timely guideposts to enhance market certainty and incentivize innovation for the future of biofuels. This is particularly important as EPA moves to consider the blending obligations for the already-delayed RFS “Set” in the year ahead,” Skor concluded.
Each year through 2022, EPA is required to issue a rule establishing the percentage of renewable fuel (the “Renewable Volume Obligation” or “RVO”) that obligated refiners and importers must blend to ensure that annual renewable fuel volume requirements established by statute are met. Failure to issue RVOs on time – by November 30th of the year prior to when the RVO is in effect – undermines the RFS by eliminating prospective, market-forcing blending obligations, and by creating uncertainty in the market for obligated parties and renewable fuels producers alike. For more information on RVOs, click here for FAQ.
In December 2020, Growth Energy submitted a notice of intent to sue EPA for its failure to meet the statutory deadline for issuing the 2021 RVOs. Late last year, Growth Energy submitted another notice of intent to sue EPA regarding its failure to timely issue the 2022 RVOs, as well as the “Set” renewable fuel volumes for 2023. As part of the settlement process, Growth Energy then filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District Columbia asking the court to compel EPA to issue the long-delayed RVOs for 2021 and 2022.
On February 23, EPA is scheduled to publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the proposed consent decree and providing 30 days for public comment from the date of publication.