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RIN prices soar after report about refinery exemptions

Houston — Prices for Renewable Identification Numbers leaped Wednesday after published reports said the Trump administration would whittle down the number of exemptions given to refineries exempting them from US biofuel blending regulations.

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D6 ethanol RINs for 2020 were assessed 11 cents higher at 43 cents/RIN, the highest assessment since reaching 44 cents on April 2, 2018. D4 biodiesel RINs for 2020 were assessed at 53.75 cents/RIN, a gain of 6 cents, the highest assessment since reaching 54.50 cents/RIN on February 16, 2019.

A news report said that the White House planned to apply a recent 10th District Court of Appeals ruling nationwide. In that ruling, the court ruled that only refineries that had been granted exemptions continuously since the program began in 2008 would be eligible for future exemptions.

S&P Global Platts Analytics estimated that, under the court's criteria, at least 64 exemptions were granted improperly, exempting 3.2 billion RINs in error from 2015 onward.

Federal biofuel blending rules allow for exemptions for small refineries with a capacity of 75,000 b/d or less, if the facility can prove complying with the regulations would create an undue financial hardship.

Should the White House go ahead with those Biofuel industry supporters have long argued that the exemptions were a back door way for the refining industry to cut biofuel fuel demand.

The EPA issues RINs to track renewable fuel usage throughout the supply chain. Refiners and importers -- called obligated parties -- use them to show the EPA that they have fulfilled their mandated government use of renewable fuels. If the obligated party has not used enough physical product, it can buy RINs to satisfy the quota.

The EPA could not be reached for comment.