RFN Releases Statement on EPA Consideration of 52 RFS Waivers
Despite the fact that a January 2020 Tenth Circuit court decision upheld the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and severely limited qualified small refinery exemption petitions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated today that they have received 52 petitions from small refineries seeking gap year exemptions from RFS requirements from 2011-2018.
In its ruling, the Tenth Circuit Court eliminated the ability for refineries to claim exemptions that had not initially been filed within the required time frame. The Tenth Circuit Court ruling outlined very limited scenarios where the EPA was allowed to grant waivers, one of which was that refineries needed to maintain continuous RFS waiver extensions through each compliance year. In a blatant attempt to circumvent the Tenth Circuit decision, oil refineries are now petitioning the EPA to grant waivers for those gap years (between 2011 and 2018) so that their refinery may still qualify for exemptions in perpetuity.
“This is one of the most brazen attempts to do an end-run around federal law that I have ever seen,” said Troy Bredenkamp, Renewable Fuels Nebraska executive director.
The Renewable Fuels Association, who filed the original lawsuit along with National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol, uncovered the ploy by refineries and brought it to the attention of EPA Administrator Wheeler in a letter dated May 22. Refineries are arguing that the statute allows them to file a petition “at any time,” which contradicts the Tenth Circuit saying that “at any time” does not require EPA review or granting of the petition regardless of when it is received. Some of the waivers requested date back to 2011, nearly a decade ago.
“These actions are in direct contradiction to the Tenth Circuit ruling and simply put, are not legal,” according Bredenkamp. “Refineries were given the ability to receive temporary assistance as they transitioned to higher blending capabilities, but there were rules in place to prevent abuse of the system which is unfortunately what is taking place now. The EPA is obligated to follow the law of the land. The EPA should immediately adopt the Tenth Circuit court ruling nationwide, and deny these and any future unjustified waiver requests. Anything less would be yet another slap in the face to America’s farmers by this administration’s EPA, a list which is getting longer and longer.”
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