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U.S. EPA received 22 biofuel hardship waiver petitions as of Dec. 18

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received 22 petitions for hardship waivers from U.S. biofuel requirements for the 2018 compliance year, data on its website showed on Thursday, up from 15 petitions in November.

The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into their fuel each year or buy compliance credits from competitors that do. But it allows the EPA to exempt plants of less than 75,000 barrels per day if they show complying would cause financial hardship.

Farm state lawmakers have complained that the hardship waivers are being overused in a way that is killing demand for corn-based ethanol.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Chris Prentice Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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