EPA wants to retract three last-minute RFS waivers

In a legal motion filed in Denver, the EPA asked a federal appeals court to vacate RFS exemptions granted to three small refineries during President Trump’s last day in office. The EPA, now directed by Biden appointees, said the outgoing Trump officials “did not analyze determinative legal questions” whether the refineries qualified for the waivers.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in January 2020 that small-volume refineries could be given a “hardship” waiver from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard only it they received a waiver in the preceding year. The ruling greatly reduced the number of refineries eligible for exemptions. Ethanol makers and farm groups say the market for corn ethanol was reduced by billions of gallons due to a surge in RFS waivers during the Trump years.

“We strongly support EPA’s request for vacatur and remand of these three midnight-hour exemptions that were handed out to Sinclair in the waning moments of the Trump administration,” said Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association.

A month after President Biden took office, the EPA announced that it agreed with the appellate court’s interpretation, which it said “better reflects the statutory text and structure as well as Congress’ intent in establishing the RFS program.” It was a change in position by the administration.

The Supreme Court heard arguments last week over the validity of the 10th Circuit decision.

The EPA motion is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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