U.S. EPA to announce decisions for 36 refineries seeking biofuel blending waivers

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday will announce decisions on 36 refineries that are seeking exemptions to biofuel blending mandates, according to a government notice.

The EPA has accumulated a backlog of more than 60 requests for the so-called Small Refinery Exemptions, sought by refineries that argue that the cost of blending biofuels like ethanol into their fuel could put them out of business.

Thursday’s announcement will follow a 2020 court decision that narrowed the criteria for what facilities should be eligible for the relief.

The EPA in December issued a proposal to reject 65 pending SRE applications. [L1N2SS1MX] EPA’s website shows that the agency has a total of 69 pending SRE requests.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that an announcement on numerous small refinery exemption applications was imminent.

On Thursday, renewable fuel credits rose ahead of the announcement. Renewable fuel (D6) credits for 2022 traded at $1.21 each on Thursday, up from $1.155 on Wednesday, traders said, while biomass-based (D4) credits traded at $1.595 each, up from $1.52 each previously.

Former President Donald Trump’s EPA had dramatically increased such waivers to refiners, angering biofuel producers who argued that the administration was abusing the program to help its allies in the oil industry at the expense of farmers. Trump’s EPA denied the claim.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, oil refineries must blend billions of gallons of corn-based ethanol and other fuels into the fuel pool or purchase credits from those that do. The policy is intended to help farmers and reduce petroleum imports.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Mark Porter)