U.S. EPA waives fuel requirements, extends biofuel deadline to help refineries

March 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced a raft of measures to help oil refineries cope with the fallout from coronavirus pandemic, from waiving seasonal anti-smog requirements for gasoline to extending the deadline for small facilities to show compliance with the nation’s biofuel law.

The EPA added that it will not immediately revisit or rescind any of the exemptions that it has given to small refineries in the past, freeing them from their obligations under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, despite a federal court ruling questioning their legitimacy.

“Investigating and initiating enforcement actions against small refineries that were previously subject to an exemption is a low priority for the agency,” the EPA said in a press release outlining the moves.

The steps are meant to protect gasoline supply, the agency said, as the coronavirus outbreak roils markets and upends daily life around the world. More than 551,800 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 24,885 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The outbreak has triggered measures that have reduced staffing levels at oil refineries and touched off a massive decline in demand for motor fuels. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly Editing by Marguerita Choy)