Supreme Court extends deadline for EPA response to SRE challenge

By Erin Voegele | November 11, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 10 granted a motion filed by the U.S. EPA seeking a one-month extension to its deadline to file a response to a petition filed by HollyFrontier and Wynnewood Refining in September seeking a review of the ruling on small refinery exemptions (SREs) handed down by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2020. The following day, the states of Wyoming, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia filed a brief in support of the petitioners.

An SRE petition, when approved by the EPA, provides the impacted refinery with a waiver of its annual blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard for a particular RFS compliance year.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 24, 2020, struck down three SREs that had been approved by the EPA and ruled that the agency cannot extend exemptions to any small refinery whose earlier, temporary exemptions, had lapsed. If implemented nationally, the ruling would significantly lower the number of small refineries that are eligible to apply for exemptions to their RFS blending requirements.

Wynnewood Refining and HollyFrontier in March requested a rehearing en banc of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal’s Jan. 24 ruling. The court rejected those petitions in April.

Wynnewood and HollyFrontier filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court on Sept. 4. The matter was placed on the court’s docket on Oct. 13. The EPA’s response to the challenge was initially supposed to be filed by Nov. 12. On Nov. 4, the agency filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking for a one-month extension to file its response. The court has approved that extension, with the EPA’s response now required to be filed by Dec. 14.