Biofuel producers must comply with federal greenhouse gas emissions standards, a US appeals court ruled on Friday.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the EPA had “no basis” for its 2011 rule giving paper and wood product manufacturers, ethanol producers and other biomass facilities a pass on curbing their GHGs.
The EPA had put the three-year deferral in place to give it time to study the industry’s CO2 emissions. Industry groups argued regulations and permit requirements would be too costly and said in some cases, such as wood burning, biomass facilities are carbon neutral because trees absorb CO2 before they are cut down.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed the suit against the EPA, arguing that the government was treating biofuels’ emissions differently from other sources of gas.
The American Forest and Paper Association, the American Wood Council and other industry groups intervened in the case to support the EPA’s temporary CO2 regulation suspension.
On Friday, American Forest & Paper Association president and CEO Donna Harman said the court’s ruling “creates great uncertainty” about permitting requirements for biomass facilities and “underscores the need for EPA to finalize its rulemaking on the treatment of biogenic emissions.” American Wood Council president and CEO Robert Glowinski said the trade group hopes the EPA “moves expeditiously” to finalize CO2 regulations for the biomass industry.
The EPA said it’s reviewing the decision before determining what next steps to take, Reuters reports.
Earlier this month, BP and Royal Dutch Shell cut back on biofuel research, stopping funding on four projects because they say the technology to generate fuel from woody plants and waste will not be economically viable until 2020 or later.