Trump Administration to Pare Small Refinery Waivers


The Trump Administration is expected to pare the number of small refinery waivers that exempt refiners from their obligations to acquire Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Bloomberg News reported on Feb. 26.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not issued any statements on the matter at this time, and NATSO continues to monitor the issue. 

In January, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that EPA must reconsider three of the biofuel waivers it granted to small refineries, arguing the agency’s justification for approving the exemptions was flawed. Bloomberg, citing undisclosed sources, reports that EPA will apply the Court of Appeals ruling nationwide.

Politico, also citing undisclosed sources, reported that EPA is reviewing 23 petitions for exemptions, and that most of those will be rejected. 

EPA did not comment for either the Bloomberg News or Politico reports. 

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on social media that he hoped the reports were true. 

EPA has the authority to grant waivers exempting small refineries — those producing less than 75,000 barrels of fuel per day — from their obligations under the RFS if the refineries can prove that acquiring RINs would cause them a substantial economic hardship. However, in recent years an unprecedented number of exemptions have been granted, including to some of the nation’s biggest refineries.

NATSO has long argued that these exemptions have been designed as a vehicle to lower RIN prices -- and thus incentives for blending biofuels -- rather than in response to actual economic hardships.

NATSO thinks that EPA needs a transparent process to guide its assessment of small refinery waiver requests to ensure that such exemptions don’t continue to undermine the law’s intent and decrease demand for biofuels.



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