The U.S. Department of Energy has finished reviewing retroactive requests from refiners for exemptions from the nation’s biofuel blending laws and has sent recommendations on how to address those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, Senator Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday.

U.S. EPA receives recommendations on retroactive biofuel waivers: senator- oil and gas 360

Source: Reuters

The EPA now has 90 days to review the recommendations, said Grassley, a senator from Iowa, the top ethanol-producing state.

The agency will consider 58 pending requests for compliance years 2011 through 2018, EPA data showed.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel, or buy credits from those that do. Small refiners that prove the rules would financially harm them can apply for exemptions.

The EPA is in charge of granting exemptions, after the Energy Department reviews applications and makes recommendations.

EPA did not immediately provide comment.

The pending applications for blending exemptions would help bring oil refiners into compliance with a court ruling this year that had cast doubt over the EPA’s waiver program.

In January, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that waivers granted to small refineries after 2010 had to take the form of an “extension.” Most of the recipients of waivers in recent years have not continuously received them each year since 2010.

The waivers are controversial, as biofuel advocates say they hurt demand for corn-based ethanol, while the oil industry disputes that, and says blending requirements are too expensive.

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