Biofuel stakeholder coalition challenges EPA on 2018 refinery waivers
In the United States (US), a coalition of renewable fuel and agricultural trade organizations filed a petition on October 22, 2019, with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the process by which the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted certain unknown small refineries from their respective Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations for 2018.
The coalition includes the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board (NBB), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), National Farmers Union (NFU), and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
Unlike previous years, EPA’s entire decision document was only two pages long, the coalition noted in their petition. In these short two pages, EPA purported to resolve 36 pending petitions for disproportionate economic hardship exemptions—a decision that exempted small refineries from having to blend almost one and a half (US) billion gallons (≈ 5.7 billion litres) of renewable fuel.
The brief document does not reveal any details and contains only “the most bare-bones reasoning” for EPA’s decision. Further, the decision did not transparently address whether any of the small refineries were eligible to receive extensions of their exemptions and did not include an analysis of ‘disproportionate economic hardship’, as the statute envisions.
Even as the Trump Administration indicates it is taking steps to account for future small refinery exemptions, the coalition remains concerned that EPA’s abuse of the small refinery exemption program diverges from the spirit and letter of the Clean Air Act. From a substantive and procedural perspective, this is not the way for a federal agency to make such a momentous decision, the coalition stated.