A US appeals court has dismissed a challenge filed by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to allow Argentinian biodiesel to qualify for US renewable fuel credits, Platts reported on 20 December.

The NBB had argued that Argentinian producers were not being held to the same environmental standards as others and US producers were suffering as a result of increased competition.

The case dates back to January 2015, when the EPA approved a tracking programme to demonstrate that Argentinian biodiesel imports complied with US Renewable Fuel Standard requirements. The application was submitted by CARBIO, Argentina’s biodiesel and soyabean trade association.

Platts said the tracking programme identified lands cleared or cultivated before 2007, using historical NASA satellite images and designated zip codes as either eligible or ineligible. When feedstock arrived at crushing plants, each shipment’s paperwork was inspected to make sure the crops were grown in an eligible zip code.

The NBB had argued that the satellite methodology was untested and had wide room for error when used on specific plots of land, rather than in aggregate.

The US Court of Appeals for the District Columbia Court said NASA’s Lansat satellite programme was the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence and was used by EPA and other researchers to detect land use and vegetation changes.

“These do not strike us as markers of an unproven or untrustworthy technology,” Platts reported the court as saying.

According to Platts, US net Argentine biodiesel imports jumped to 6.3M barrels in January-September 2016, more than double the 2.7M barrels in the same period in 2015.