The Environmental Protection Agency today took the first step toward reviving a portion of a rule that could reveal the names of oil refineries that applied for exemptions from the nation’s biofuel laws with its request for public comment on a plan to reveal “basic information” about exemption requests. This basic information would include the name of each petitioner, the name and location of the facility at issue, the general nature of the request, the time period at issue and the extent to which EPA granted or denied the request. It will take comment on this for 15 days.
This is reopening comments on a proposal the agency made more than two years ago that basic information related to EPA actions on petitions for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery and small refiner exemptions may not be claimed as confidential business information.
In 2017, EPA began releasing just the number of waiver petitions it had received and granted rather than the names of those receiving the exemptions. But the agency’s new administrator, Andrew Wheeler, has pledged more transparency in the process.
His predecessor Scott Pruitt had approved nearly all of the waivers he received. And while the waivers were intended for small operators, operations owned by major companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. received exemptions that effectively lowered the blend mandate for conventional ethanol.
Today’s move is seen as a win for the biofuel industry, as it has been pushing for more transparency in the waiver process, including which refineries are seeking them and how their approvals have been justified.