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Renewable fuel, agriculture coalition challenges EPA’s small refinery exemption process

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A coalition of renewable fuel and agricultural trade organisations in the US has filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the process by which the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted certain small refineries from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) exemptions for 2018.

In contrast to previous years, the EPA’s entire decision document on the RFS exemptions was just two pages long, in which the agency claimed to resolve 36 pending petitions for disproportionate economic hardship exemptions.

This decision exempted small refineries from having to blend almost one and a half billion gallons of renewable fuel, the coalition noted in the petition. Moreover, the document did not reveal any details and contained a too-brief reasoning for the EPA’s decision.

The coalition also noted that the decision did not transparently address whether any of the small refineries were eligible to receive extensions of their exemptions and did not include an analysis of ‘disproportionate economic hardship’, as the statute envisions.

“Even as the Trump Administration indicates it is taking steps to account for future small refinery exemptions, the coalition remains concerned that EPA’s abuse of the small refinery exemption programme diverges from the spirit and letter of the Clean Air Act,” the coalition stated. “From a substantive and procedural perspective, this is not the way for a federal agency to make such a momentous decision.”

The coalition includes the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and Renewable Fuels Association. The full petition filed with the Court of Appeals can be found here.