Ethanol Blog

EPA Adds Six Additional Requests for Small-Refinery Exemptions to Dashboard

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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Oil-refining companies now have made a request for 58 small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Logo courtesy of EPA)

The EPA on Thursday posted six additional pending requests for retroactive small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard to the agency dashboard, bringing the grand total to 58 such requests for waivers for compliance years 2011 through 2018.

The agency now lists seven pending requests each for 2011 and 2012, 11 each for 2013 and 2015, 12 in 2014, eight in 2016 and two in 2018, in addition there are 27 listed for 2019 and one for 2020.

American Coalition for Ethanol Chief Executive Officer Brian Jennings said in a statement to DTN the EPA was protecting oil interests.

"We are already halfway through the year and instead of taking steps to comply with the January 10th Circuit Court ruling to limit small-refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard, EPA seems merely interested in providing refiners yet another escape hatch in the form of the now nearly 60 retroactive waiver requests," he said.

"EPA's priority is obviously protecting refiners and ignoring the statute or court decisions."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver ruled back in January the agency illegally granted exemptions to three small refineries. In that case, the court said the refiners were not eligible for exemptions because they had not previously received them.

Biofuel and agriculture interest groups have alleged EPA is considering granting small-refinery exemptions for previous years, which could potentially allow refining companies to continue receiving exemptions legally.

In recent weeks the EPA announced it was postponing indefinitely the scheduled June release of the proposed renewable volume obligations in the RFS for 2021.

Based on agency numbers, just seven small refineries qualified for small-refinery exemptions.

On Jan. 24, the court ruled EPA didn't have the authority to issue small-refinery exemption extensions to three companies that were not originally granted waivers in 2017 and 2018.

The court also found EPA "abused its discretion" by not explaining its conclusion that a small refinery could suffer disproportionate economic hardship while also maintaining refiners passed on RFS compliance costs to consumers at the pump.

Congress allowed EPA to extend some small-refinery exemptions temporarily.

From 2007 through 2010, 59 small refineries received waivers. The U.S. Department of Energy then examined the 59 waivers and determined that 24 of them could be extended for another two years.

In 2011 and 2012, the number of exemptions was whittled down to eight, then down to seven in 2015. Then from 2016 to 2018, the agency granted 85 exemptions.

Todd Neeley can be reached at

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