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February deadline proposed for RFS ‘hardship’ waiver

In a Federal Register notice, the EPA said it would decide by Feb. 19 under a proposed consent order whether to approve a 2019 request by a small Pennsylvania oil refiner for an exemption from the ethanol mandate. The pro-ethanol trade group Growth Energy called for the EPA to resolve all 66 pending petitions for the so-called hardship waivers available to small-volume refiners.

United Refining Co. filed suit in federal court last July to force the EPA to act on its December 2019 petition for an exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard. By statute, the EPA has 90 days to respond but, as it said in the Federal Register, it “has not acted on the petition.” United Refining processes 70,000 barrels of oil a day at its refinery in Warren, Pennsylvania, for sale at 300 retailers in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio.

The EPA said it will accept comment until Feb. 3 on the proposed consent agreement. If it proceeds with the agreement, it would have to rule on United Refining’s request no later than Feb. 19.

Growth Energy chief executive Emily Skor said the incoming Biden administration should “deny any and all (small-refinery exemptions) that are not in accordance with the Renewable Fuel Standard” or a U.S. appeals court ruling issued in early 2020 that greatly restricts the availability of the exemptions.

The Federal Register notice is available here.

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