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Bankruptcy judge rules on Philadelphia Energy Solutions case

Spencer Platt/GettyImages Philadelphia Energy Solutions is seen October 24, 2014, in Philadelphia, Penn.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions is the longest continuously operating refinery on the East Coast.
Growth Energy disappointed in ruling.

A federal bankruptcy judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved a settlement Wednesday between Philadelphia Energy Solutions and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the New York Times. 

Philadelphia Energy Solutions issued a statement saying they’re pleased with the Court’s decision, which alleviates a portion of the company’s Renewable Identification Number financial obligation.

“This is another important milestone in our quest to strengthen our financial foundation and ensure that PES can successfully emerge from the restructuring process,” the company said in a media statement. “During the comment period, the DOJ (Department of Justice) received over 1,300 comments, an overwhelming number of which supported the settlement. While this settlement is only a partial and temporary reprieve, we are hopeful that action will be taken by policymakers to address the flaws in the Renewable Fuel Standard program’s RIN compliance mechanism that adversely impacts independent refineries across the country.” 

The Philadelphia Energy Solutions bankruptcy ignited efforts to overhaul the Renewable Fuel Standard. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, drafted legislation to stem compliance costs for refiners and fellow Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz floated other changes that Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency could adopt administratively. 

The standoff brought both sides to the White House for meetings with the president, but no deals were announced. The debate brought RINS to center stage and six farm groups united in calling for Trump to support the RFS.

The nomination of Bill Northey for a USDA post got caught up in the feud, with Cruz placing a hold on the nomination. The hold was later lifted and Northey confirmed.

The April 4 settlement brought disapproval from Growth Energy.

“We are disappointed the court declined to consider our objections,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor in a media statement. “The EPA’s sue-and-settle-style settlement will give the Carlyle Group a free pass for skirting the law, even after they neglected the refinery while pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in cash payouts.” 

Carlyle Group owned Philadelphia Energy Solutions. Growth Energy filed comments with the Department of Justice outlining the biofuel industry’s objections to the proposed settlement on March 23 followed by an additional memo to the court on April 2.

Combined with the secret waiver for Andeavor, Growth Energy says the EPA’s actions are eliminating demand for renewable fuels.

“Refiners of all sizes are reporting record profits – they don’t need any more favors at the expense of rural America,” Skor said. “It’s time for the White House to uphold the president’s commitment to rural voters by restoring integrity to the RFS.”

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