DOJ opposes refiners’ petition for a review of biofuels case

refiners petition biofuels

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a filing document in which stands against refiners petition for a review on the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling earlier this year, that invalidated several small refinery exemptions issued by Environmental Protection Agency, under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The petition for a review was made by refining companies HollyFrontier and CVR Energy, over the Tenth Circuit Court decision of not concede them waivers upon their biofuels obligations. DOJ’s official’s argument says that the Supreme Court should not review the case, as it does not conflict with any other courts decision.

As we reported previously, small refiners and biofuel companies were at a debate, as the Renewable Fuel Standard obligates refiners to blend certain amounts of biofuels onto their mix. Those obligations can be exempt if small refiners proof that blending biofuel causes them financial harm.

For the biofuel industry such waivers harm their entire chain of value, as they petitioned a 52-year gap for those obligations. Under president Donald Trump, on top of this, waivers quadrupled. Then, in January, the Tenth Circuit Court ruled that such waivers should only be granted as exceptions from previous ones.

“The Tenth Circuit invalidated three exemptions EPA had issued in 2016 and 2017 because it found that EPA had no authority to extend exemptions that had already lapsed in prior years and because EPA based the exemptions on economic hardships that were not caused by compliance with the RFS,” the Renewable Fuels Association said in a statement.

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Refiners feel the ruling undermines waiver program

Refining companies considered that the ruling undermined the entire waiver program and asked the Supreme Court to review the case. Now, the DOJ has opposed to that review. The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol cheered the DOJ’s decision.

“We agree with the well-reasoned position of the Justice Department; we concur that no further review of the Tenth Circuit decision is warranted”, they said in a statement. “The Tenth Circuit got it right when it concluded that the temporary small refinery exemptions Congress provided could not be extended; not if they had previously expired.  But the more important and immediate point is that the petition from HollyFrontier and CVR falls far short of the standards the Supreme Court has established for its review of lower court decisions,” they concluded.

The biofuel industry has called for the EPA to apply the Tenth Cuircuit’s ruling broadly, but it has failed to do so. As we reported recently, the EPA missed the deadline for a response to the petition and to establish clear policies upon the matter.

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