RFA Decries “Gap Year” Refinery Waiver Requests

The Renewable Fuels Association is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to deny the latest attempt by the petroleum industry to circumvent the 10th Circuit Court decision which severely limits small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by seeking past-year waivers from renewable volume obligations.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper argued that granting such waivers would be unlawful, inconsistent with the statute, and contrary to EPA’s own policies and regulations. According to the letter, the petitions are nothing more than a “thinly veiled attempt to circumvent” the Tenth Circuit’s decision in January, in the case of Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA, that struck down a number of exemptions granted by the agency.

The new petitions are being described as “gap filings” intended to establish, without regard to merit, a continuous string of exemptions to be consistent with the court decision only allowing an exemption if it is an extension of a previously existing exemption. Some small refineries are now seeking retroactive exemptions for previous years to “fill the gaps” so that they may argue they had a continuously extended exemption.

According to RFA, some refiners are trying to “…pretend there could have been a hardship years ago that could justify the granting of an exemption today, years after the compliance deadline had passed for the year the exemption is sought.

“We urge EPA to clarify that small refinery exemption extension petitions for past compliance years are inconsistent with the RFS and will not be entertained by the Agency,” Cooper concluded. “We also urge that EPA expeditiously deny any petitions that have already been received, or that are received going forward, for past compliance years.”

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