Lobbyists Sue EPA For Not Forcing Small Refineries To Blend Biofuels

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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A biofuel makers trade group is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for granting refineries waivers from following renewable fuel laws, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to review the EPA’s waivers.

“ABFA members are concerned that Administrator (Scott) Pruitt is granting these exemptions in an arbitrary and capricious manner to undisclosed parties behind closed doors with no accountability for its decision-making process,” ABFA head Michael McAdams said, according to Reuters.

Ethanol producers, promised by President Donald Trump he would protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), have grown “furious” with the EPA for the waivers that cut ethanol blending. The producers think the waivers, granted over three times more often than in previous years, are undermining the RFS, according to Politico.

Refineries are pushing back against the allegations against the EPA.

The ABFA court filing is “a fundamental misunderstanding of the hardship exemption. EPA’s current actions are fully consistent with the Clean Air Act,” attorney Scott Segal, who is working with refiners, told Politico. “The small refinery exemption provision is well established.”

The usual recipients of RFS “hardship” waivers are small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day of fuel. Much larger refineries have received an RFS exemption, however, such as one of the largest refineries in the U.S., Andeavor, according to Reuters.

Under the RFS program, the EPA has the authority to temporary relieve refineries of their biofuel obligation if fulfilling it would cause “disproportionate economic hardship,” according to EPA’s website.

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