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EPA grants 31 small refinery exemptions, denies 6

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced late Aug. 9 that it granted 31 small refinery exemption petitions and denied six applications for compliance year 2018.

The agency said it received 42 petitions for compliance year 2018, up from 37 petitions received in compliance year 2017. The EPA granted 31 of the petitions, denied six, declared three ineligible or withdrawn and said that two petitions were pending. In contrast, during compliance year 2017, the EPA granted 35 petitions, denied one and declared one ineligible or withdrawn.

Under the agency's Renewable Fuel Standard program, small U.S. refiners may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations, which requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels such as ethanol into the U.S. gasoline pool, if it can demonstrate that compliance may cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship.

The EPA said in an Aug. 9 release it intends to explore opportunities to remove regulatory burdens that prevent marketplace entrance and growth to natural gas, flexible fuel vehicles and E85 fuels. The agency said it will work with stakeholders in the coming months to explore deregulatory options.

The agency's decision follows a review of the biofuel blending waivers program ordered by President Donald Trump in June after meeting with farmers following a trip to the Midwest.