Energy

Sinclair confirms it secured Trump EPA's last biofuel waivers, defends them in court

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Sinclair Oil's Dino balloon is carried down Central Park West during the 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sinclair Oil Corporation confirmed on Tuesday it secured biofuel blending waivers for its refineries from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shortly before the departure of the administration of President Donald Trump last week.

The company made the statement in a court filing defending the waivers against a challenge from the biofuel industry, which wants to prevent the EPA from processing them. The company said the administration granted the waivers on Jan. 14.

Reuters had previously reported, citing sources, that privately-held Sinclair received at least two of three waivers handed out by the EPA in mid-January in the agency's last big move on biofuels policy before Trump left office. read more

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In the filing Sinclair argued that it had the right to intervene in the court challenge, filed by the Renewable Fuels Association, because if the exemptions are blocked, it would be harmed financially.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled on Thursday that the EPA's action to grant the three waivers must be stayed.

The waivers are part of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel mix, or buy credits from those that do. Refiners can apply for an exemption if they average 75,000 barrels per day of throughput or less and can prove the blending requirements would do them financial harm.

The Trump administration vastly expanded the number of exemptions granted annually to refiners. Biofuel producers say the exemptions hurt demand for their products, while the oil industry rejects that claim and say exemptions are needed to keep small refiners afloat.

The EPA announced late on Jan. 19 that it granted two waivers for the 2019 compliance year but did not identify the recipients. It also granted one waiver for the 2018 compliance year.

Reuters reported the two 2019 waivers went to the 85,000 bpd Sinclair Wyoming refinery and the 30,000 bpd Sinclair Casper refinery, also in Wyoming. It remained unclear whether Sinclair also received the 2018 waiver.

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Reporting by Stephanie Kelly Editing by Marguerita Choy

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