The EPA announced today, Feb. 22, that it supports the court's interpretation of the renewable fuel standard small-refinery provisions.
Congress created the RFS program to expand the nation's renewable fuels sector while reducing dependence on foreign oil. It was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
In enacting the RFS program, Congress recognized the need to allow small refineries (those with aggregate crude oil throughput less than or equal to 75,000 barrels per day) to transition into the program. Small refineries were exempted from the RFS program in its earliest years, 2006-2010, after which a small refinery could petition EPA for and receive an extension of its exemption if it could demonstrate the refinery would suffer “disproportionate economic hardship” as a result of complying with its RFS obligations.
In calendar year 2017 (largely for the 2016 RFS compliance year), EPA began granting a large number of petitions for extensions of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). By 2018, the number of SREs issued for the 2017 compliance year was more than quadruple the number issued for the 2015 compliance year.
On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the small refineries’ petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s holding regarding the SRE eligibility of small refineries that lack an existing exemption. HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al. v. Renewable Fuels Assn., et al., United States Supreme Court, Case No. 20-472.