The Environmental Protection Agency denied 36 petitions from oil refiners seeking exemptions from the national biofuel blending laws for the compliance year 2018. However, the agency said last week that it will provide 31 of the refineries with another avenue to get relief.
A 2020 court decision narrowed the criteria for exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard’s blending quotas, and the EPA says the denial follows the law and recent court decisions. The agency added that the alternative relief it plans to grant to 31 of the refineries will allow them to meet their 2018 compliance requirements without having to purchase blending credits. The EPA says that decision comes from the “extenuating circumstances,” including the fact that the plants had already been granted waivers.
Reuters says the agency is taking this approach because the amount of renewable fuel used in 2018 will be unchanged regardless of any action refiners take now.
Top farm and biofuel groups reacted to the news. They’re disappointed that the agency is allowing the refineries with previously-granted SREs to not have to take additional steps to meet obligations under the RFS.
Groups like Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, and others say the denial is an important step in reversing past refinery exemption abuses.
“However, the decision fails to remedy the economic harms that the improperly granted 2018 SREs have already caused,” the groups say in their statement. “The agency’s readiness to excuse individual refineries from their obligations to comply with the 2018 blending requirements comes at the expense of our biofuel producers, farmers, and American consumers.”
The groups say that low-carbon biofuels are the single best tool to deliver immediate relief at the pump, strengthen U.S. energy security, and protect the climate.