Appeals court rules against fuel exemptions to Oklahoma refinery

A federal court ruling that stated the EPA exceeded its authority in exempting three oil refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard involves a southern Oklahoma refinery and the company that owns the Holly Refinery in Tulsa.

The ruling, according to some observers, could force the Trump administration to reconsider its expanded use of the exemptions. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling in a lawsuit filed in 2018 by the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union. Their May 2018 lawsuit against the EPA challenged three specific waivers granted by the EPA including one to a refinery owned by Wynnewood Refining Co., which is a subsidiary of CVR Energy which is majority-owned by Carl Icahn.

The other two waivers cited in the lawsuit were granted to refineries in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Woods Cross, Utah, owned by HollyFrontier Corp., owner of a refinery in Tulsa. The exemptions have relieved Wynnewood Refining and Holly Frontier of a combined $170 million in compliance costs, according to company statements cited by the plaintiffs.

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled EPA could only extend exemptions granted to a handful of refineries in 2011, but not create new ones. And the court faulted EPA for considering factors beyond the RFS in determining refineries deserve the exemptions on “economic hardship” grounds. EPA has issued 85 exemptions from the biofuels mandate since President Donald Trump took office, and another 21 applications for new waivers are pending at the agency.

Source: POLITICO’s Morning Energy