The Environmental Protection Agency has taken legal action to repeal three waivers from the nation’s biofuel mandate that were granted to Sinclair in the waning days of the Trump administration.

In a motion filed Friday with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, EPA said the Trump administration “did not analyze determinative legal questions regarding whether Sinclair’s refineries qualified to receive extensions of the small refinery exemption under controlling case law established” in a ruling the court issued in January 2020. 

That ruling remanded three SREs and created a new rationale for the EPA to follow in granting future exemptions. In the Friday filing, EPA said there is “substantial uncertainty” if the January waivers would stand up to the analysis required by that ruling.

The waivers exempt small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day from the Renewable Fuel Standard if they can demonstrate that compliance with the mandate would cause them undue economic harm.

Usage of the exemptions exploded during the Trump administration but slowed greatly after the 10th Circuit ruling, which is currently under review at the Supreme Court. Oral arguments were presented in April with a final ruling expected in June or July.

In a statement, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the organization “strongly” supports the EPA’s effort to vacate “these three midnight-hour exemptions.”

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“If allowed to stand, these improperly granted exemptions would have erased demand for another 260 million gallons of low-carbon renewable fuels, undermining the rural communities that depend on a strong RFS,” Cooper said. “We are greatly encouraged by EPA’s actions, which are consistent with President Biden’s commitment to stem the tide of unwarranted refinery exemptions and put the RFS back on track.”

Sinclair Oil — the parent company of the facilities with the SREs in question — declined to comment. A spokesperson for the EPA did not respond to a request for comment.

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