President weighing decision over court’s refinery ruling

It’s sounding as though Oklahoma’s Senators and Representatives who urged President Trump to appeal a Denver federal court biofuels ruling that he might not do it.

POLITICO’s Morning Energy Report says there are indications the President is under pressure from within his own administration not to challenge the ruling of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House is trying to set up a meeting with Trump, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and potentially other senior officials this week to decide whether EPA should appeal a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision from January that curtailed its issuance of SREs to gasoline makers, according to three people in the oil refining and biofuel industries.

The ruling applied directly to the CVS Refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma and prompted three of the state’s members of congress to urge the EPA to continue granting exemptions to the biofuel rules.

Three of Oklahoma’s members in the U.S. House had urged the Trump administration to consider filing an appeal to a Denver Federal court ruling that went against a small refinery in southern Oklahoma.

Reps. Kevin Hern, Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin, all Republicans sent the letter to Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and urged him to continue granting relief to small refineries in accordance with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“The current decision, as it stands, will jeopardize or otherwise end small refinery hardship relief and result in the loss of countless jobs that contribute to the energy independence of the U.S. economy,” argued the representatives.

Following the court ruling, EPA had been expected to apply the ruling nationwide and drastically cut the number of exemptions it issued. But the president received pressure from House and Senate Republicans, and Attorney General William Barr, not to do so, which prompted the administration to instead request an extension until March 24 on whether to appeal the ruling.

As recently as last week, Trump told corn champion Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) he would not appeal but would instead ask EPA to apply some kind of cost controls, according to a source familiar with the call. And with the outbreak of COVID-19 forcing Americans to hunker down at home, fuel consumption is dropping and makers of both biofuels and gasoline are seeing weak demand.

The biofuel and oil industry sources say the White House has not reached a decision on whether to file an appeal, and a meeting is designed to help resolve the matter. “The decision to delay the appeal decision was seen as a way to buy additional time,” said an oil industry source. “I think it is safe to say that the world has changed a bit since last Friday and that, hopefully, folks at the [White House] have more important things to worry about than [biofuel credit] prices right now.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Energy Report