Environmental organizations have withdrawn their support of a challenge to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) brought by the National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, and National Turkey Federation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments today in the lawsuit that challenges RFS regulations issued on March 26, 2010. The challenge is focused on a provision in the rules addressing ethanol plants built in 2008 and 2009 and the requirements that they must meet to generate trading credits under the program.
While the lawsuit is proceeding on this relatively narrow aspect of the regulations, a broad-based challenge that had been brought by environmental advocacy groups Friends of the Earth and National Wildlife Federation was dismissed by the Court of Appeals on the eve of argument. With just one business day before argument and after full briefing had been completed, the environmental advocacy groups filed a motion with the Court to voluntarily end their challenge. Their withdrawal from the case leaves only the limited challenge of the Meat/Poultry groups.
A major issue in the oral argument was whether these groups were properly before the Court. The ethanol industry through the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy intervened in the case to defend the rule and argued that the challenges must fail on both procedural and substantive grounds. “We are hopeful that the Court will act quickly to uphold this remaining element of the rules that is subject to legal challenge, given the policy underlying the provision to create a stable environment for investment in renewable fuel facilities,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.
“We are pleased that the environmental group petitioners realized that their challenges were so unlikely to succeed that they dismissed their case. We only wish that they had come to this conclusion before wasting the resources of the government and biofuels producers who had to defend the challenges in briefing,” added RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen, who noted that the environmental groups decided to drop their claims on Friday.
“Quite frankly, had they prevailed, which we think is unlikely, they could potentially have taken down the entire Renewable Fuel Standard,” Dinneen said.