U.S. EPA files motion to vacate three biofuel exemptions given to Sinclair

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File photo: A general view of a refinery in Hobbs, New Mexico, U.S. September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Adria Malcolm

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NEW YORK, May 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a motion on Friday to vacate three waivers given by the previous administration to Sinclair Oil Corporation refineries that exempt them from biofuel blending mandates.

In the motion, the EPA said that the agency under the Trump administration did not analyze whether Sinclair's refineries would have qualified to receive the exemptions according to a court ruling from January 2020.

Under U.S. law, refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation's fuel pool or buy credits from those that do. Refiners can also apply for exemptions to the mandates if they can prove financial harm from the obligations.

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In January 2020, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that waivers granted to small refineries after 2010 should only be approved as extensions. Because most recipients of waivers in recent years have not continuously received them year after year, the decision threatened to upend the waiver program.

That ruling is currently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

"There is substantial uncertainty whether, if EPA performed such an analysis, it could grant the petitions submitted by Sinclair," the filing said.

Sinclair was not immediately available to comment on the filing.

This past January and hours before the departure of the administration of President Donald Trump, the EPA announced that it granted two waivers for the 2019 compliance year and one for the 2018 compliance year, but did not identify the recipients. read more

Sinclair later that month confirmed it had secured the waivers. read more

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Reporting by Stephanie Kelly

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