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January 29, 2013

Court Vacates 2012 Cellulosic Biofuel Requirements

Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 25, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2012 cellulosic biofuel requirements under the renewable fuel standard. American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 12-1139. In its January 2012 final rule, EPA projected that 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel would be produced in 2012, and determined that a reduction in the volume of total advanced biofuels was unnecessary because other kinds of advanced biofuels could make up for the shortfall. The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed suit, challenging EPA’s 2012 projection for cellulosic biofuel and its refusal to reduce the volume of total advanced biofuels for 2012. While the court rejected API’s argument that EPA failed to justify its determination not to reduce the applicable advanced biofuels volume, the three-judge panel unanimously agreed that “because EPA’s methodology for making its cellulosic biofuel projection did not take neutral aim at accuracy, it was an unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.” The court vacated that aspect of the 2012 rule and remanded it to EPA. An EPA spokesperson stated that EPA is still reviewing the court’s decision.