Wynnewood Refining Company wins fight with EPA over renewable standards


The CVR Refinery at Wynnewood in southern Oklahoma is among a handful of small refineries that won an Appeals Court battle with the EPA over renewable fuel standard program obligations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of a group of sixsmall refineries that the Environmental Protection Agency had invoked an “impermissiblly retroactive” standard on the refineries in order to comply with the Clean Air Acts renewable fuel standards.

Alexandra Magill Bromer, an attorney for the Small Refineries Coalition called it a “victory for small refineries.”

“Hardship relief does not negatively impact the RFS’s goal of increasing the volume of renewable fuels in U.S. transportation fuel supply,” Bromer said, according to Bloomberg.

“Instead, efforts to end hardship relief risk inflicting real and significant financial damage on our nation’s small refineries, who play a critical role in the domestic energy supply.”

It is considered another blow to the Biden administration’s to deny dozerns of exemptions to the nation’s smaller refineries in meeting the RFS requirements. The program was created in 2005 and the refiners have to meet annual, nationally applicable volume targets. However, in order to meet the requirements of blending more biofuel into their products or purchasing credits known as RINs, the smaller refineries can also petition the EPAS for an exemption.

In applying for the exemptions, the six refineries were denied by the EPA and took the EPA to court, contending the new EPA standards were not the practice of the agency over the previous several years. The Appeals Court agreed.

“Petitioners justifiably relied on EPA’s past agency practice when applying for the exemptions at issue,” Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote for the 2-1 majority, reported Bloomberg. The judge also said the exemption requests made by the six refineries had been submitted before the EPA posted its changes.

As Bloomberg reported, the retroactive application of the new requirements created by the EPA “harshly penalizes” the refiners for using good faith to rely on the agency’s prior approach. The court also characterized the EPA’s approach as “misguided” and said there was not a “single benefit of retroactive application” implemented by the EPA.

In a separate matter, the appeals court unanimously agreed to send to Washington a separate challenge made by the Wynnewood Refining Co. which challenged an April 2022 EPA determination.

The cases are Calumet Shreveport Refining LLC v. EPA, 5th Cir., 22-60266, 11/22/23 and Wynnewood Refining Co. v. EPA, 5th Cir., 22-60357, 11/22/23