Supreme Court Hears Arguments Between Oil Refiners and Biofuel Groups

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IOWA — Arguments between oil refiners and biofuel groups went before the Supreme Court this week. The case pits Holly Frontier Cheyenne Refining against the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers and National Farmers Union. The refiner is appealing a lower court ruling.

One main argument talks about exemption extensions. Matthew Morison spoke for the RFA and told the Supreme Court that the Justices should interpret the Renewable Fuels Act on a plain understanding of the term “extensions” when referring to waivers. “The context in which this word is used in the statue, confirms this ordinary meaning, is also the only appropriate and plausible meaning consequently, any extension of the time limited exemption for a new compliance year, must be preceded by an extension in the prior compliance years,” Morison said.

Peter Keisler, speaking for refiners, argued that Congress did not intend to force small refiners out of business if they couldn’t comply with the R-F-S in a single year. He argued before the justices the definition of extension matters. “Even if ‘extension’ is read in its temporal sense, that does not require continuity. No dictionary defines ‘extension’ to require continuity, and Congress has used the term elsewhere when it’s specifically authorizing the temporal resumption of a benefit after a lapse,” Keisler argued.

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