Petition Filed to Rehear EPA Small Refinery Exemption Denials Case

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The Renewable Fuels Association has submitted a petition to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting a reevaluation of a case from November. The case involved the reversal of six of the EPA’s small refinery exemption denials that occurred during the previous summer. The association argues that the panel made an error by not transferring the nationally applicable case to its appropriate venue in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This fall, a court ruling was issued for the first time regarding the EPA’s decision in July to reject 26 petitions for RFS relief. As a result of this ruling, only two outstanding petitions from the 2018 compliance year remained.

Despite this ruling, Judge Patrick Higginbotham dissented, arguing that the court made an inappropriate decision on venue and went against the “common sense” interpretation of the law followed by the other four regional courts.

The regional court ruling had a direct impact on six refineries within that circuit. These include Allegiance Refining’s facility in San Antonio, Texas; Calumet’s refinery in Shreveport, Louisiana; CVR Energy’s refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma; Ergon Refining’s facilities in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Newell, West Virginia; as well as Placid Refining’s refinery in Port Allen, Louisiana.

EPA’s Decision on Small Refinery Exemptions Under Scrutiny

Six petitions challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision on small refinery exemptions (SREs) have been sent back to the court, and each refinery continues to operate under temporary exemptions granted by the court. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) filed a court document expressing concern about the decision to hear the case in the Fifth Circuit, as it conflicts with precedent set within the court and its sister courts.

The court’s decision to consider refinery-specific data regarding SRE denials was questioned by RFA, which argued that the core determinations made by the EPA have nationwide implications and warrant consideration by an administrative law expert in the D.C. Circuit. According to RFA, deviating from this approach goes against the goals set by Congress in designing the Clean Air Act’s venue provision.

As a result, RFA believes that the panel’s decision not only contradicts these intentions but also narrows the conditions for transferring cases to the D.C. Circuit without proper statutory support or precedent.

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