EPA denies of gap-year waiver petitions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied 54 of 68 pending past-year (2011-2018) small refinery exemptions (SREs), or waivers, to oil refiners. An additonal 14 gap-year waivers remain under required review at the Department of Energy (DOE). The EPA also has 31 waivers under consideration for 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance years.

“Asking for waivers for nearly ten years ago was a new low by the oil industry to undermine the RFS and rewrite history. Denying these petitions was the obvious answer and farmers are pleased to begin to move past this distraction. We thank our bipartisan supporters in Congress, including Senator Ernst, for their advocacy in upholding the RFS,” said the National Corn Growers Association in a statement. “While denial of these past-year waivers is obviously positive news for farmers and biofuel producers, we’re never going to have the certainty we need until the underlying waiver issue is fully resolved.”

In 2019, President Donald Trump directed the EPA to follow the letter of the law and keep the RFS whole and, in January, the Tenth Circuit ruled the EPA exceeded its authority in granting waivers.

“The Administration has yet to apply this decision to current waiver requests while corn farmers suffer suppressed markets and ethanol plants continue to have idled capacity,” NCGA said. “The solution is simple; the EPA needs to uphold the law, adhere to the Tenth Circuit decision, and follow through on the President’s commitment to farmers. Corn growers stand ready to work with the Administration to uphold the RFS and continue to remove barriers to higher ethanol blends.”

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