WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today approved a consent decree agreement between Growth Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires EPA to finalize its 2020-2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) by no later than June 3rd. The consent decree follows Growth Energy’s 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 in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“We are encouraged by EPA’s commitment to this deadline, as it gives more credence to the agency’s stated intention to get the RFS back on track by providing regulated parties and the biofuels industry with timely guideposts to enhance market certainty and incentivize innovation for biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “This is particularly important as EPA moves to consider the blending obligations for the already-delayed RFS ‘Set’ in the year ahead.”
“This agreement is a significant milestone for the biofuels industry and reflects our persistent efforts to hold EPA accountable to issue timely RVOs and provide market certainty for biofuel producers.”
Each year through 2022, EPA is required to issue a rulemaking 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 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.
For 2023 and later, EPA, in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), is required to set these renewable fuel volume requirements through one or more rulemakings, taking into consideration six statutory factors, including environmental, economic, and energy security factors. EPA is required to set volume requirements at least 14 months prior to the calendar year in which they are to take effect. In addition, EPA is constrained by statute to ensure that, for each year starting in 2023, the volume of advanced renewable fuel is at least the same percentage as the volume of the total renewable fuel requirement established in 2022.
In December 2021, Growth Energy submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a notice of intent to sue (“NOI”) regarding its failure to timely fulfill the agency’s statutory obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to issue the 2022 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) and in turn, the potentially multi-year “set” rulemaking process for renewable fuel volumes for 2023 and beyond. The RVOs for 2022 were due by November 30th, 2021, an annual deadline set by Congress in the RFS. Additionally, the final “set” rulemaking was due on November 1, 2021. Growth also previously submitted a NOI for EPA’s failure to timely issue the 2021 RVO, which was due on November 30, 2020.
In response to the NOI, Growth Energy and EPA reached agreement to enter into a consent decree to finalize the delayed 2021 and 2022 RVOs by no later than June 3, 2022. EPA then issued a notice of the proposed consent decree for public review and comment. After the close of the comment period on March 25th, EPA and Growth then jointly filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking approval of the consent decree.