Small refineries await an EPA decision on waivers


The Environmental Protection Agency has yet to act on a petition filed by small oil refineries hoping to get waivers from this year’s Renewable Fuel Standard mandates. The Wynnewood Refinery is one of those that lost a Denver federal appeals court decision earlier this year and at last word, the company still had the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

POLITICO reported that small oil refiners — still reeling from the pandemic-driven collapse in fuel demand — have petitioned EPA to grant them economic hardship status dating back to 2013 in an apparent move to pave the way for the agency to free them from this year’s Renewable Fuel Standard mandates to blend ethanol with their gasoline.

If granted, the unprecedented request could allow small refiners seeking exemptions from RFS requirements for 2020 to meet the standard set by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January that said only facilities that had obtained those exemptions continuously since they were first offered in 2013 were eligible to receive them for the current year.

EPA has yet to act on the petitions. Instead, the agency placed them in an administrative hiatus in order to avoid reporting their existence in an online dashboard created by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to increase transparency, according to two people who work in the oil industry.

The move by the refiners once again puts the administration in a tight political spot over whether to side with corn farmers, whose votes Trump needs in states like Iowa, or to back the refining sector that employs blue collar workers in places like Pennsylvania that could be crucial in November’s election.

In a statement to ME, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Wheeler “fully understands” the damage that expensive compliance credits, called Renewable Identification Numbers, have on small refineries. “I expect the administrator, based on his past commitments, not to sit idly by while RIN prices continue to increase and to provide relief to small refiners that is authorized by Congress,” he said.

Source: POLITICO’s Morning Energy