Ethanol Blog

Growth Energy Joins Court Fight Against Refiners Challenging EPA on RFS Implementation

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
Connect with Todd:
A group of refining companies is challenging EPA action on the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Photo courtesy of Countrymark)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Ethanol trade group Growth Energy joined in the fight against refining companies that have asked a federal court to review an EPA decision to allow the companies to not comply with certain Renewable Fuel Standard requirements.

Refining companies led by The San Antonio Refinery, LLC, have filed an appeal of EPA's issuance of an alternative RFS compliance schedule after the agency rejected small-refinery exemptions in 2022.

The schedule allows refineries producing 75,000 or less barrels of refined gasoline per day, to comply with the statute by using renewable identification numbers, or RINs, from previous years to comply.

The refining companies asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the decision, making a number of claims. The complaint alleges EPA violated the refiners' rights, the Clean Air Act and administrative law by missing RFS statutory deadlines and "failed to minimize the harm it caused." The refiners said the EPA change of schedule did not help.

In 2022, EPA took a series of related RFS actions.

The agency extended deadlines for obligated parties to demonstrate compliance with their 2019 to 2022 RFS obligations, then denied petitioners' and other small refineries' applications for exemption from their 2016 to 2021 RFS obligations.

The EPA then excused some refineries that applied for exemptions from their 2016 to 2018 RFS obligations. The agency then set RFS volumes for 2020 to 2022, then allowed refineries to select an extended compliance schedule with an expanded range of eligible RIN vintages to meet their 2020 RFS obligations.

Growth Energy said in an amicus brief filed on Monday the EPA does not have the authority to provide RFS alternatives to refiners.

"In any event, whether the determination of petitioners' RFS obligations through the 2020 to 2022 rule and the exemption denials is viewed through the lens of retroactivity or not, EPA lacks authority to use the alternative-compliance approach petitioners demand," Growth Energy said in its brief.

"Agencies have only 'the authority delegated to (them) by the statute.' Congress did not delegate such power to EPA."

Growth Energy said in a news release the refining industry continues to look for ways to avoid RFS obligations.

"Across a range of cases, the industry has argued that EPA should not be allowed to enforce the RFS because the industry simply doesn't want to comply, even with relaxed obligations," Growth Energy said on Tuesday.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the agency's decision to reject small-refinery exemptions was based on EPA's own conclusion that refiners recover the costs of RFS compliance through prices at the pump.

"This case is no different than so many others brought by the oil industry," Skor said in a statement.

"Every time EPA denies an exemption, its decision is backed by reams of data that show the supposed economic hardship that refiners face for complying with the RFS is a fiction. They almost always recover whatever it costs them to blend biofuels into their fuel mix.

"Rather than fault EPA for failing to minimize the supposed hardship to the oil industry from the RFS -- especially here, when EPA gave them even more time to comply -- the oil industry should stop playing the victim and get on board with the most successful climate policy enacted to date."

The EPA last week rejected 26 of 28 pending small-refinery exemptions.

Read more on DTN:

"EPA Rejects 26 of 28 Previously Pending Small-Refinery Exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard,"…

"20 Refiners Appeal RFS Waiver Denials,"…

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley


To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .