Appeals Court Sends Three Small-Refinery Exemptions Back to EPA

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2021

Three small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard granted by EPA in January have been vacated by a federal court. (DTN file photo by Emily Unglesbee)
Three small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard granted by EPA in January have been vacated by a federal court. (DTN file photo by Emily Unglesbee)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — A federal court on Wednesday vacated three small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard granted by the outgoing Trump administration on Jan. 19, according to a court ruling.

The EPA on May 3 asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver to nullify the SREs. The court sent the exemptions back to the agency for reconsideration.

“The motion concedes that the agency did not analyze determinative legal questions regarding whether petitioners’ (Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company and Sinclair Casper Refining Company) refineries qualified to receive extensions of the small-refinery exemption under this court’s controlling decision,” the court said in a ruling on Wednesday (https://files.constantcontact.com/…).

The Trump administration granted the three exemptions just days before the Biden administration was to take office.

In a motion filed in the 10th Circuit, the agency said it did not follow proper procedure when, on Jan. 19, it granted the exemptions to Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company and Sinclair Casper Refining Company from their 2018 and 2019 obligations in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In particular, the agency said its action did not account for case law established by the 10th Circuit in January 2020. The court ruled the EPA illegally granted exemptions to three refiners in 2017 and 2018 even though they did not qualify.

Earlier in May, the agency told the 10th Circuit mistakes were made in the Trump administration’s 11th-hour action. In addition, EPA said vacating the three exemptions would preserve stability in the marketplace for renewable identification numbers (RINs) by ensuring those RINs Sinclair already retired to demonstrate compliance in 2018 and 2019 would remain retired.

The EPA filed a petition for review on March 15 of the previous agency action.

|