EPA denies 36 refinery biofuel waivers

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The EPA has denied three dozen requests from small refineries for exemptions from biofuels blending requirements for gasoline, a move that stems from the controversial Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 2018 ruling that extended the authority for the agency to carry out the denials.

It was a ruling involving at least one Oklahoma refinery, the Wynnewood refinery, which contended the EPA did not have the authority to deny an exemption from being required to produce a certain amount of ethanol or other biofuels.

The EPA, in announcing its decision, said at least 31 of the 36 petitioners would be allowed to meet 2018 requirements.

“Concurrent with today’s denial action, EPA is also taking action to provide an alternate compliance approach that allows 31 small refineries to meet their new 2018 compliance obligations without purchasing or redeeming additional RFS credits. EPA is granting this compliance flexibility because the Agency has determined that there are extenuating circumstances specific to this set of petitions, including the fact that SRE petitions were previously granted,” said the EPA in the announcement.

The agency did not identify the small refineries included in its denial announcement. The original requests were also not made public, as indicated in the EPA documents.

This information has been claimed as confidential by the affected businesses,” stated the document.

The EPA said the denials were part of the agency’s new interpretation of the Clean Air Act small refinery exemption provisions and were consistent with the Denver Federal appeals Court ruling made nearly four years ago in the case entitled Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA.

Under the newly-defined rules, small refinery operators are allowed to request exemptions if the enforcement of the rules would cause significant hardships.

This means that these refineries will not have to purchase or use additional blending credits in order to meet their obligations. The agency said it would give the refineries this authority because of “extenuating circumstances” including the fact that there had previously been exemptions granted.

In December, the agency had proposed denying 65 petitions.