October 23, 2019 / 1:17 PM / 20 days ago

Biofuel groups file petition challenging Trump administration's small-refinery waivers

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sign is seen on the podium at EPA headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ting Shen/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Biofuels groups have filed a petition in the U.S. court of appeals in Washington against the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s process for granting refineries exemptions to the nation’s biofuel blending mandates, the groups said Wednesday.

The petition, filed by groups such as the Renewable Fuels Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and Growth Energy, challenges the EPA’s process for granting waivers to 31 oil refineries for 2018. The biofuels industry has criticized the Trump administration for expanding the number of waivers granted in recent years, claiming the exemptions undercut demand for fuels such as corn-based ethanol.

“We are going to hold the EPA accountable under the law for the damage it has done to rural communities, biofuel producers, and farm families,” said Growth Energy Chief Executive Emily Skor.

Since August, when the EPA announced waivers for 2018, the Trump administration has tried to mend fences with the biofuels industry and corn lobby. Last week the EPA proposed a plan to boost biofuels demand that would base biofuel volumes required for blending on exemptions recommended by the U.S. Energy Department. The plan was met by further consternation from industry leaders.

“EPA continues to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard program in accordance with the Clean Air Act, taking into consideration additional direction from Congress, recommendations from Department of Energy, and relevant court decisions,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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