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Exxon Mobil managed to get its hands on a financial hardship waiver from the EPA that will allow its Billings Refinery in Montana to escape the wrath of restrictive US biofuel laws, Reuters sources claimed on Wednesday.
Just weeks ago, Reuters reported the EPA was suspending its refinery biofuel waiver program pending a thorough review of its scoring system that saw a record number of waivers granted in 2017. That news followed reports from a few months earlier that
The EPA granted 29 biofuel waivers in 2017, compared to 20 in 2016 and just 14 in 2015 under the previous administration.
Exxon, with over $19 billion in net income for 2017, is not the only oil giant to receive such a waiver, with Chevron securing one for its Utah refinery earlier in the year. At the time, Chevron—with a net income of $9.2 billion in 2017—was the largest known company to secure a biofuel waiver. At the time, Chevron said that the EPA had granted several small refineries exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standards, and that not securing a waiver would put Chevron refineries at disadvantage in this competitive market.
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.
According to its website, Exxon’s Billings refinery has a capacity to refine 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The increase in waivers from the EPA has angered American farmers who stand to benefit from strict adherence to the RFS, with the Trump Administration caught between a rock (farmers) and a hard place (Big Oil).
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.