Court Vacates Last Minute Refinery Exemptions

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has issued an order vacating three small refinery exemptions granted by EPA in the waning moments of the Trump Administration. The court’s decision came promptly after EPA petitioned for the vacatur and remand of the exemptions on April 30 and Sinclair responded on May 18 that it did not oppose EPA’s request.

The court order states that any further administrative proceedings on these exemptions must be “consistent with this court’s decision in Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA,” where the Tenth Circuit ruled that EPA may only extend pre-existing refinery exemptions, that EPA’s exemption decisions must reconcile the agency’s consistent findings that all refineries recover the costs of compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that EPA may only use hardship caused by the RFS to justify granting exemptions.

“We’re pleased that the court has vacated these improperly granted waivers and is sending them back to EPA for reconsideration,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “If these exemptions had been allowed to stand, they would have erased RFS blending requirements for 260 million gallons of low-carbon renewable fuels, destabilizing rural communities and taking a step backward in the fight against climate change. EPA did the right thing in April by requesting that these spurious exemptions be vacated, and we applaud the agency for honoring President Biden’s commitment to putting an end to the surge of illegitimate refinery waivers.”

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA