New York — US refiners continued to file petitions for small refinery exemptions from federal biofuel blending mandates in October, though the Environmental Protection Agency has not granted any petitions for 2019 or 2020, according to agency data released Nov. 19.
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The data showed three new 2019 petitions for a total of 32 and five new 2020 petitions for a total of nine.
Recent court decisions have left questions about the administration of the small refinery exemption program.
A Nov. 17 court decision on a refiner's small refinery exemption did little to shift RIN prices as the ruling appeared to be too narrow to affect other petitions.
The Fourth Circuit in its decision said the Environmental Protection erred in its rejection of Ergon West Virginia, Inc.'s petition for an exemption from biofuel blending mandates, saying the agency treated a similar small refiner differently.
The decision was just the latest of several court decisions regarding the agency's administration of the small refinery exemption program but appeared to only focus on the EPA's decision for the one refiner, not broadly.
A January court decision signaled the EPA would need to grant fewer exemptions, but refineries that received an exemption in the past could continue to receive exemptions in the future.
That led small refineries that had not received a small refinery exemption to apply for all possible years to potentially be grandfathered into future exemptions, but the majority of those applications were denied in September.
A refinery with less than 75,000 b/d of throughput capacity can petition the EPA for an exemption from federal biofuel blending mandates. The EPA's administration of the waiver program has been a hot button in the biofuels and oil industries.
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