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February 26, 2020 1:45 PM, EST

Trump to Pare Biofuel Waivers for Oil Refineries on Court Ruling

Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refineryPhiladelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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The Trump administration has decided to pare exemptions for oil refineries from U.S. requirements to use biofuels in response to a federal court ruling last month, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The decision to apply that 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling nationwide means that only a handful of oil refineries likely will qualify for the waivers going forward, down from dozens in recent years, according to the people who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The approach represents a win for biofuel producers who have battled the exemptions and accused the Trump administration of siding with the oil industry on the issue.

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A three-judge panel ruled in January that the Environmental Protection Agency wrongly waived three refineries from requirements to use plant-based fuels.

Under the decision reached by Trump administration officials, the EPA will effectively apply that 10th Circuit ruling nationwide — a move that generally means refineries would only qualify for exemptions if they have consistently received those waivers since the program began in 2008.

Tradable credits that refineries use to show compliance with biofuel mandates had already climbed in anticipation that fewer facilities will be exempted in the future to fulfill the annual blending quotas.

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