Practice/Industry Group Overview
Sutherland is the go-to counsel for the refined product and renewable fuel industries as they navigate and capitalize on federal and state regulations.
Sutherland counsels dozens of refiners, producers, blenders, importers and traders of refined products, renewable fuel and associated credits. We provide legal guidance on regulatory compliance, in enforcement proceedings, with negotiating contractual provisions and in litigation when commercial disputes arise. We work with every form of transportation fuel, including conventional and reformulated gasoline, diesel, blendstock for oxygenate blending (such as RBOB and CBOB), ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, CNG, LNG and biogas. Our experience with crude oil and other blendstocks or chemicals is unparalleled with regard to regulatory compliance and licensing at the federal and state level.
Sutherland's deep bench advises daily on the federal and state rules governing renewable fuels and associated credits (for example Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and credits under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard) (LCFS). Our attorneys have an unparalleled understanding of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) complex regulatory regime and fuel specifications governing transportation fuels and heating oil, including RFS, the Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Program (ULSD), the Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) and Anti-Dumping Regulations, and GHG reporting. We are active in policy actions at EPA, and bring our clients and agency officials together to discuss program issues and direction. Our team is also well-versed in the customs laws governing imports and exports, Jones Act requirements, and the tax laws that incentivize transportation fuels.
Sutherland lawyers understand the EPA, U.S. Customs and Internal Revenue Service/TTB, and Department of Transportation (DOT) enforcement regimes, and have worked with multiple companies responding to compliance issues at these agencies. With years spent working on contracts for refined products, we are at the forefront of developing and negotiating contractual terms between counterparties for the trade of transportation fuel, RINs and LCFS credits. When disputes arise between counterparties, our commercial attorneys bring well-honed skills to resolving and, when necessary, litigating these matters.
A proven record. For more than four decades Sutherland’s energy and environmental lawyers have guided transportation fuel stakeholders through a constantly changing regulatory environment.
Industry experience. We have a large, diverse client base in the sector, including some of the world’s largest gasoline blenders and importers; diesel importers and traders; renewable fuel producers importers and traders.
Thoughtful leadership. Our lawyers are at the forefront of renewable fuels law and are frequently quoted in the press on new EPA regulations and policy developments.
Enforcement experience. We have represented dozens of companies in EPA mobile source enforcement proceedings.
Comprehensive services. Our multidisciplinary team advises renewable fuels clients on the entire range of issues they face, including excise tax credits and customs laws.
Nuts and Bolts
Our comprehensive service offerings for transportation fuels include:
- Federal and state regulatory, compliance and enforcement
- The Clean Air Act
- The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS1 and RFS2)
- Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Program (ULSD)
- Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) Regulations and Anti-Dumping Regulations
- Audits, voluntary disclosure and representation during enforcement proceedings
- Policy developments affecting alternative and renewable fuels
- California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)
- Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Rule
- Commercial advice
- Commercial terms for the purchase and sale of transportation fuels, renewable fuels and RINs
- Strategies for mitigating commercial and compliance risks
As transportation and renewable fuel players work to stay on top of regulations and legislation, Sutherland attorneys help to ensure that our clients remain in compliance and are able to maximize new incentive opportunities.
Helps numerous clients resolve Renewable Identification Number (RIN) enforcement actions and commercial issues.
Represented more than a dozen refiners, importers and blenders of gasoline and diesel in settling allegations of Clean Air Act violations for using invalid RINs under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
Assists renewable fuel clients in establishing appropriate compliance and training programs, vetting protocols, and Department of Transportation sampling and testing plans and security plans.
Counsels clients moving renewable and transportation fuel, as well as crude oil or hazardous materials, on the establishment of appropriate compliance and training programs, vetting protocols, and Department of Transportation (DOT) sampling and testing plans and security plans.
Counsels new entrants into fuels trading on registrations, compliance, licensing and reporting.
Counsels companies that are new to fuels trading, storage, import or export on registrations, compliance, licensing and reporting pursuant to federal and state requirements.
Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:
Heightened Focus on Renewable Fuel Standard Enforcement Increases Compliance Challenges
Paul C. Freeman,Catherine M. Krupka,Susan G. Lafferty,David M. McCullough,Ronald W. Zdrojeski, December 02, 2016
As the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program continues to evolve and mature, so too does the manner in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) seeks to drive day-to-day compliance by the regulated community. From the program’s inception, EPA’s regulatory...
Undoing the Clean Power Plan
Joshua L. Belcher,Samina M. Bharmal,Jay Holloway,Liz Williamson, November 23, 2016
The election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States appears to have dealt certain defeat for the Obama Climate Action Plan. Central to that effort was the Clean Power Plan, finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015, which would have imposed...
Federal Court Orders EPA to Evaluate Job Losses from Air Regulations
Joshua L. Belcher,Samina M. Bharmal,Jay Holloway,James A. Thompson,Liz Williamson, October 20, 2016
On October 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in favor of Murray Energy Corporation (Murray) in its section 321 suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The court ordered that EPA must evaluate the job loss consequences of its air...
Lumber War May Be Imminent
Mark D. Herlach,Gregory S. Kaufman,Allison E. Speaker,Ryan R. Weiss, September 16, 2016
Negotiations to keep the peace in the complex and long-running international trade dispute between the United States and Canada over U.S. imports of Canadian softwood lumber appear to have stalled. Parties on both sides of the border are preparing for another round of import relief actions, which...
White House Issues Guidance Advising Agencies to Assess Climate Change in NEPA Reviews
Reginald J. Clark,Jay Holloway,Susan G. Lafferty,Peter Ligh,David M. McCullough, August 11, 2016
On August 1, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued its final guidance for federal agencies on considering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the effects of climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews.1 This final guidance comes after the first draft...
Pressure Builds for EPA and CFTC to Investigate Manipulation in the RIN Markets
Catherine M. Krupka,Susan G. Lafferty,David M. McCullough,David T. McIndoe,R. Michael Sweeney, August 03, 2016
In what could foreshadow even further scrutiny of trading activities in the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to investigate potential...
U.S. Customs Aims to Increase Enforcement of the Jones Act
David A. Baay,Jacob Dweck,Susan G. Lafferty,David M. McCullough,Ronald W. Zdrojeski, July 20, 2016
In what could foretell a significant increase in the enforcement of the coastwise trade provisions of the Jones Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) announced on July 18 the creation of the National Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE). The Jones Act’s coastwise trade...
TSCA Reform Presents Solutions and Questions for Industry
Samina M. Bharmal,Jay Holloway,Susan G. Lafferty,David M. McCullough,Liz Williamson, June 28, 2016
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since its passage in 1976. The amendments significantly change the way that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...
EPA to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Industry
Jay Holloway,Susan G. Lafferty,David M. McCullough,James A. Thompson,Liz Williamson, May 24, 2016
On May 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final regulations (the Rules) aimed at reducing methane emissions from certain new and modified oil and gas facilities by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. Methane is considered to be a significant contributor to climate change,...
EPA Denies Five Petitions for Reconsideration of New Source Performance Standards
Joshua L. Belcher,Jay Holloway,Cedric E. Seley,Liz Williamson, May 06, 2016
On April 29, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied petitions by the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), American Electric Power (AEP), Ameren Corp., the State of Wisconsin, and the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute (EELI), seeking reconsideration of certain aspects of EPA’s...
Sweeping Changes Proposed to Tax Treatment of Related-Party Debt May Impact Private Funds
Robert S. Chase,David A. Roby,Amish M. Shah,Madeleine M.L. Tan,H. Karl Zeswitz, April 15, 2016
Recently proposed Treasury regulations under IRC § 385 (the Proposed Regulations) would potentially treat related-party debt, in whole or in part, as equity for U.S. tax purposes. The Proposed Regulations generally apply to debt among members of an expanded corporate group, which includes...