EPA: 6 more ‘gap year’ SRE petitions filed

By Erin Voegele | July 16, 2020

The U.S. EPA on July 16 released updated small refinery exemption (SRE) data showing that small refiners have filed six more “gap year” SRE petitions for compliance years 2011 through 2016. There are now 86 SRE petitions pending, including 58 gap year SRE petitions. Up from 80 SRE petitions, including 52 gap year petitions, that had been pending as of June 18.

The 58 pending gap year SRE petitions have been filed with EPA in an effort to circumvent a Jan. 24 ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down three SREs previously approved by the EPA and determined that the agency cannot extend exemptions to any small refinery whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed.

The court’s decision was challenged by Wynnewood Refining and HollyFrontier in March. That challenge, however, was rejected by the court. If applied nationally, the Jan. 24 ruling was expected to limit eligibility for future SREs to a small number of small refineries.

The gap year SRE petitions filed with the EPA in recent months represents an effort by several small refiners to create a continuous chain of SRE approvals that would allow the effected refineries to maintain eligibility for future SREs.

The EPA’s online SRE dashboard currently shows there are seven gap year SRE petitions pending for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance year 2011, seven pending for compliance year 2012, 11 pending for compliance year 2013, 12 pending for compliance year 2014, 11 pending for compliance year 2015, eight pending for compliance year 2016, and two pending for compliance year 2018. In addition to those 58 gap year SRE petitions, 27 SRE petitions are currently pending for compliance year 2019 and one is pending for compliance year 2020.

 The American Coalition for Ethanol issued a statement criticizing the EPA’s administration of the SRE program, reports that the agency is delaying release of its RFS proposal for 2021, and its failure to address the loss in fuel demand to ensure the 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) are met this year. "We are already halfway through the year and instead of taking steps to comply with the January Tenth Circuit Court ruling to limit Small Refinery Exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard, EPA seems merely interested in providing refiners yet another escape hatch in the form of the now nearly 60 retroactive waiver requests,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “EPA's priority is obviously protecting refiners and ignoring the statute or court decisions.”

Additional SRE data is available on the EPA website.