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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn a waiver from the biofuel blending regulations—a waiver typically given to companies in financial hardship, Reuters reported on Monday, citing to two industry sources it had briefed on the matter.
Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners are required to blend growing amounts of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel. Refiners that don’t have the infrastructure to blend biofuels must purchase tradeable blending credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs. The EPA has the authority to grant waivers from the renewable fuel standard to refineries whose oil processing capacity is below 75,000 bpd if the companies owning the refinery can prove that the credits they must buy are causing them financial hardship.
The EPA waiver for the 74,500-bpd Wynnewood, Oklahoma, refinery owned by Icahn’s CVR Energy has been granted in recent months, Reuters sources said, without specifying exactly when the waiver was given.
“This one’s going to be hard for [Scott] Pruitt to explain,” Brooke Coleman, head of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council industry group, said in an email to Reuters on Friday, referring to the EPA administrator.
Billionaire Icahn was a special advisor to U.S. President Trump on issues relating to regulatory reform. Icahn stepped down from that role in August last year after criticism from lawmakers that there was a conflict of interest between his role as advisor and investor in the refinery business.
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CVR Refining reported last week that its net income more than doubled in Q1, and chief executive Dave Lamp said that “The quarter’s fiscal performance was driven by stronger crack spreads, hedging gains, a reduction to our estimated Renewable Volume Obligation and lower Renewable Identification Number prices.”
In the conference call with analysts, Lamp said that “CVR Energy has had a long history of keeping RFS compliance strategy confidential.”
Earlier this month, reports emerged that the two U.S. supermajors ExxonMobil and Chevron had asked EPA to waive the obligations for biofuel blending for their smallest refineries— Chevron for its 54,500-bpd refinery in Utah, and Exxon for its 60,000-bpd refinery in Montana.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.