EPA faces policy concerns after court’s rejection of RFS waiver denials

Source: By Stuart Parker, Inside EPA • Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A regional appeals court’s decision scrapping EPA’s denial of waivers for six Gulf Coast oil refineries from renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel blending mandates contradicts Biden administration policy that has seen the agency reject all recent waiver requests, and raises questions about additional waiver denials being litigated elsewhere.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in a split Nov. 22 decision vacated and remanded EPA’s denial of RFS waivers for refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, rejecting the agency’s assertions that the court must transfer the litigation to the D.C. Circuit that hears cases on agency decisions that are “nationally applicable,” and instead finding the denials to be local matters. EPA maintains that all of its waiver denials, issued in April and June 2022 actions covering dozens of refineries, were based on a new statutory interpretation and the principle that refiners pass through their compliance costs to customers.