Equilibrium & Sustainability

EPA denies requests for biofuel blending exemptions


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday rejected 36 requests for exemptions from biofuels blending requirements for gasoline. 

Oil refiners are required to blend a certain amount of ethanol or other biofuels into what eventually becomes gasoline. But small refiners can request exemptions if this would cause it significant hardships. 

Of the 36 petitions that were denied, however, the EPA said it will allow 31 of them to meet the 2018 requirements, for which they had asked to be exempt, through an “ alternate compliance approach.”

This means that these refineries will not have to purchase or use additional blending credits in order to meet their obligations. The agency said it would give the refineries this authority because of “extenuating circumstances” including the fact that there had previously been exemptions granted. 

The EPA’s decision on Thursday did not allow for any exceptions to move forward, but the agency said it is still considering several additional exemption requests.

In December, the agency had proposed denying 65 petitions. 

The blending requirements were created by Congress in 2005 in what is known as the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. It is meant to cut the releases of planet-warming gases from U.S. gasoline usage. 

However, some studies have called climate benefits from ethanol usage into question, citing emissions from changes in land that is used to grow the corn that makes the fuel. 

The issue is one that often divides Republicans, as those in corn-producing states are supportive of the RFS program, while those from oil refining states are more critical. 

But the Biden administration has also made split moves, angering the biofuels industry in December when it also proposed lowering the total volume of biofuels required to be blended for the past years of 2020 and 2021. 

That move would have returned blending credits to refiners, who could then use them to blend biofuels into their gasoline less in the future. 


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