EPA releases data on small refinery hardship waivers

By Erin Voegele | September 20, 2018

The U.S. EPA has released new data on small refinery hardship waivers confirming the agency has, to date, waived volumes equal to approximately 1.46 billion renewable identification numbers (RINs) for 2017 and 790 million RINs for 2016.  

The EPA updated its Renewable Fuel Standard website on Sept. 20 in an effort to increase transparency. The updates includes new public access to data on small refinery hardship waivers and RIN trading.

The updated website now includes data on the number of small refinery exemption petitions received, approved and denied by the agency for each compliance year. It also lists the weekly average price of RINS traded, along with the weekly volume of RINs traded.

Within its announcement, the EPA said the agency has been working to upgrade online systems to provide easy access to the most up-to-date information. These technical upgrades to the website serve to improve transparency in the agency’s implementation of the statute.

Moving forward, the EPA said it intends to coordinate small refinery hardship decisions with website updates so that the recipients of waivers and the broader market receive the same information at the same time. Information on RIN prices and trading volumes will be updated monthly.

The agency also noted that the updated RFS website includes features that allow users to customize the display of RIN information, feedstock type and producer attributes.

 “For the first time, EPA is providing new information to the public on small refinery exemptions and RIN trading,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Increasing transparency will improve implementation of the RFS and provide stakeholders and the regulated community the certainty and clarity they need to make important business and compliance decisions.”

“In our corn-growing community, the RFS program is one of the top issues people are talking about. We hear concerns about lack of transparency around the issuance of small refinery waivers and we are hopeful these changes will put everyone on a level playing field to receive the information at the same time,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Farmers stay on top of every bit of news that comes out about the RFS and their industry, so providing them with more information is a priority. Adding timely updates to EPA’s website will be important to USDA’s customers, the people of American agriculture. We have had a great working relationship with Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler and we are pleased to continue it with this progress on RFS information.”

Data released on the updated website shows the EPA has received 11 small refinery hardship petitions so far compliance year 2018. All 11 of those petitions are still pending.

For 2017, the agency received 34 petitions. To date, 29 have been approved with five still pending. The 29 petitions approved to date for 2017 exempted approximately 1.46 billion RINs, or an estimated 13.62 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel.

For 2016, the EPA received 20 small refinery petitions. To date, 19 have been approved and one is still pending. The approved petitions exempted an estimated 790 million RINs, or 7.84 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel.

Only 14 petitions were received for compliance year 2015. The EPA approved seven of those petitions, with approximately 290 million RINs or 3.07 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel exempted.

For compliance year 2014, the EPA received 13 small refinery petitions and approved eight. The eight approved petitions exempted approximately 210 million RINs or 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel.

For 2013, the EPA received 16 small refinery petitions. Eight were approved, exempting approximately 190 million RINs or 1.98 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel.

The Renewable Fuels Association has spoken out following the EPA’s announcement, calling it a step in the right direction, but cautioning more information and transparency are still needed.

“This is a step in the right direction, and we applaud Acting Administrator Wheeler’s initial efforts to provide greater transparency to the RFS program,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “Today’s action may prevent small refiners from obtaining market-moving information before other participants in the marketplace. That’s important because it appears the RIN market was gamed earlier this year by a small group of refiners who were privy to sensitive information regarding compliance exemptions before the rest of the market knew what was going on. Hopefully, this will put a stop to that. However, more information and transparency are still needed. Market participants and the public deserve to know exactly who is receiving small refinery exemptions and what criteria is being used by EPA in making the decision to grant or deny a waiver request.”