Two oil refiners have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision restricting EPA’s ability to grant waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In its 3-0 decision in January, the court ruled that EPA could not legally extend exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the ruling would “significantly” reduce the number of exemptions granted, which had grown under the current administration to 31 last year.

In its petition for rehearing by the three-judge panel or a rehearing en banc, which means the whole court, HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining of Dallas said the result of the ruling “will be to foreclose all small refineries from receiving any hardship extension” to their exemption from the RFS and deprive EPA “of a tool for regulatory relief that Congress meant it to have.”

Likewise, HollyFrontier, Wynnewood Refining, of Oklahoma, said the 10th Circuit decision contradicts the RFS, “which increases renewable fuel volume mandates year after year and allows small refineries to petition for exemptions ‘at any time’ from the escalating compliance burden.”

“For small refineries like Wynnewood, which can never achieve compliance on their own and will forever be hostage to the volatile [Renewable Identification Number] market, this ruling is a death knell,” the company, which requested an en banc rehearing, said in its petition.

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Cutting off access to future exemptions “will force Wynnewood and 11 other Tenth Circuit refineries out of business — eliminating thousands of high-paying jobs, depriving state and local governments of millions in tax revenue, and devastating the rural communities that depend on them,” Wynnewood said.

The renewable fuel industry and its supporters, including farm-state lawmakers, have been pushing the administration not to appeal the 10th Circuit ruling. Although it appeared earlier this month the administration was leaning toward requesting a rehearing, the latest reporting suggests the government won’t do that.

The deadline to seek rehearing is midnight Mountain time. 

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