The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced support for last year’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decision and interpretation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small-refinery exemption provisions.
This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA’s position before the Tenth Circuit. The change reflects the Agency’s considered assessment that the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS program.
EPA now agrees with the Tenth Circuit that an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to “extend” it. EPA also agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, “consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word “extension” refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”
A joint statement from the coalition that brought the case (Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union) calls the EPA decision “fantastic news for America’s biofuel producers, farmers, and consumers.”
“Our nation’s biofuel producers and farmers appreciate EPA’s careful review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision, and we are pleased the agency’s new leadership is reversing the previous administration’s flawed position on small refinery exemptions. This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and honor the intent of Congress. We wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s conclusion that the small refinery exemption was intended to be a temporary measure and we are pleased to see the agency confirming that only previously existing exemptions may be extended.”