Market News & Headlines >> EPA Signals Shift on Refinery Exemptions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that it agrees with an appeals court's decision last year that cast doubt on the future of “small refinery” exemptions to U.S. biofuel blending laws. 

The conclusion “represents a change from EPA's position before the Tenth Circuit," the agency said in a notice. "The change reflects the Agency's considered assessment that the Tenth Circuit's reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress's intent in establishing the RFS program." 

The announcement signals that the agency could dramatically limit the number of exemptions given to refiners under the program going forward. However, the EPA will not act on any pending petitions from small refiners for exemptions until after the Supreme Court reviews a related case, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters News Service on Monday. 

In January 2020, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that waivers granted to small refineries after 2010 should only be approved as extensions of existing exemptions. Because most waiver recipients in recent years have not continuously received them year after year, the decision threatened to upend the waiver program. The Supreme Court is reviewing that case after oil refiners petitioned.