EPA: 6 more SRE petitions filed, 58 now pending

Source: By Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2020

EPA released updated small refinery exemption (SRE) data on Nov. 19, reporting that six additional SRE petitions have been filed with the agency, including one for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance year 2019 and five for compliance year 2020. No other changes were made to the EPA’s online SRE data dashboard.

A total of 58 SRE petitions are currently pending, up from 52 that were pending as of Oct. 15. The petitions include nine that have been filed for compliance year 2020, up from four last month, and 32 that are pending for compliance year 2019, up from 31 in October.

An additional 17 gap year SRE petitions remain pending for past compliance years, including two for compliance year 2011, two for compliance year 2012, three for compliance year 2013, four for compliance year 2014, three for compliance year 2015, one for compliance year 2016, and two for compliance year 2018.

The EPA denied 54 gap year SRE petitions in September and was expected to deny additional gap year petitions once the required analyses are completed by the U.S. Department of Energy and delivered to the agency. Gap year filings are those filed by small refineries for past compliance years in an effort to circumvent a January 2020 ruling by Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that determined the agency cannot extend SREs to any small refinery whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed. The gap year petitions aim to provide a refinery with a continuous chain of SRE approvals, allowing the impacted refineries to continue to be eligible for future exemptions to their biofuel blending requirements.

HollyFrontier and Wynnewood Refining, however, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision.  Wynnewood and HollyFrontier filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on Sept. 4. The matter was placed on the court’s docket on Oct. 13. The EPA’s response to the challenge was initially supposed to be filed by Nov. 12. On Nov. 4, the agency filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking for a one-month extension to file its response. The court has approved that extension, with the EPA’s response now required to be filed by Dec. 14. The EPA is currently not expected to act on any remaining gap year SRE petitions until the Supreme Court issues its ruling.

Additional SRE data is available on the U.S. EPA website.