EPA Set to Back Down on Ethanol Waivers

The Environmental Protection Agency is backing down on its extensive use of blending exemptions for smaller oil refiners. A Reuters report says the decision comes after last month’s 10th ​Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that vacated three existing waivers and set stricter requirements for exempting refineries from their obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard. It’s been well-documented that the EPA drastically ramped up its use of refinery waivers under President Donald Trump. That sparked a fierce backlash from farmers who have largely supported the president despite policies like trade tariffs that have hit the U.S. agricultural sector hard. The White House has been struggling to find a compromise between oil and agriculture, two of the bigger pieces of Trump’s political base as he looks toward possible re-election. The court decision from January found that only small oil refineries that had maintained blending exemptions continuously since 2011 were eligible to apply for extended waivers. Oil and biofuel industry estimates both say that could preclude all but three oil refineries from obtaining exemptions. The EPA is currently reviewing 23 petitions for blending waivers and most are expected to be rejected.