RFA asks courts to dismiss its challenges in SRE cases

By Renewable Fuels Association | May 25, 2021

Following last week’s decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate and remand three small refinery exemptions granted by EPA to Sinclair Oil Corp. on the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, the Renewable Fuels Association on Monday asked both the Tenth and D.C. Circuit Courts to dismiss its challenges to the three midnight-hour exemptions. The Tenth Circuit’s vacatur of the three exemptions last week means RFA was successful in preserving 260 million gallons of renewable fuel blending requirements that would have otherwise been erased if the exemptions had been allowed to stand.

“Now that the Court has vacated these improperly granted exemptions and is sending them back to EPA for reconsideration, we are gladly requesting the withdrawal of our original objections,” said Geoff Cooper, RFA President and CEO. “Although EPA will take a fresh look at Sinclair’s petitions during its remand, it seems highly unlikely that they will be granted a second time. Thus, it appears that RFA’s lawsuits succeeded in blocking EPA from returning the 260 million RINs associated with these exemptions to Sinclair, which would have reduced the demand for renewable fuels and injured American farmers. We are pleased that our actions led EPA to reverse course on these exemptions that were facially illegal when they were granted in the waning hours of the last administration, and we applaud the agency for taking steps to correct the mistakes of their predecessors. RFA will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure EPA administers the RFS in a manner that is fair and consistent with its Congressional mandate.”

 

BACKGROUND

Within hours of the refinery exemptions being announced by the outgoing administration on January 19, RFA filed suit against EPA in the D.C. Circuit Court objecting to the exemptions and asserting that they were granted in violation of the Clean Air Act. After learning the identity of the small refineries at issue, RFA also filed a separate challenge in the Tenth Circuit, where the small refineries were located, and where RFA (along with the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition) had obtained a pivotal ruling last year outlawing such exemptions in similar circumstances.

In April, EPA’s new leadership requested that the Tenth Circuit vacate and remand the Sinclair exemptions back to the agency for further evaluation, and last week obtained the Court’s permission to do so. In its motion for vacatur and voluntary remand, the government conceded that the previous EPA “failed to adequately address determinative legal questions regarding whether the two Sinclair small refineries qualified for extensions of the small refinery exemption under controlling caselaw established by this Court.” EPA further concluded that the matter should be remanded “because it now has reason to believe that its original decision was incorrect on the merits and it wishes to chang