RFA, Growth Energy Petition Supreme Court to Review Fifth Circuit SRE Decision

  • Tuesday, 21 May 2024 10:22

Renewable Fuels Association

May 20, 2024

The Renewable Fuels Association today, along with Growth Energy,  filed a petition  in the Supreme Court of the United States requesting review of the Fifth Circuit Court’s recent opinion that it is a proper venue to consider challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s adjudication of small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit concluded in November 2023 that it was an appropriate venue to hear a challenge brought by oil refiners whose SRE petitions had been denied by EPA. RFA, which intervened in the Fifth Circuit case on behalf of EPA, argued that the Fifth Circuit was not an appropriate venue for the challenge, because SREs are nationally applicable and have nationwide scope or effect. Thus, RFA argued, the only proper venue for SRE challenges is the D.C. Circuit Court. Similar challenges brought by refiners were transferred or dismissed in the Third, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts, as those courts all affirmed they were not the proper venue to review a nationwide policy issue. In addition, the dissenting opinion in the Fifth Circuit case, written by Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham, agreed that the Fifth Circuit was an inappropriate venue and that the challenge should have instead been heard in the D.C. Circuit.

“As our petition makes clear, the Fifth Circuit never should have heard this challenge brought by refiners,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “EPA decisions on small refinery exemption petitions are inherently national in scope because the RFS establishes proportional renewable fuel volume requirements for every obligated party in the nation. When an exemption is granted, regardless of where the refinery is located, a nationwide shortfall of renewable fuel blending is created. As underscored by five other Circuit Courts and the dissenting opinion in the Fifth Circuit, the D.C. Circuit is obviously theonly proper venue for reviewing EPA’s denial of small refinery exemption petitions. The Supreme Court should overturn the Fifth Circuit’s flawed opinion and ensure that any SRE challenges are considered by the singular D.C. Circuit venue.”

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