Court Brief: EPA Strayed on RFS Waivers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — The EPA broke away from Renewable Fuel Standard requirements for granting small-refinery waivers starting in May 2017 and continued to deny a congressional order regarding which refiners qualify, according to a 97-page brief filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by attorneys on behalf of the Advanced Biofuels Association. The group sued the EPA in response to it granting 48 small-refinery waivers in 2016 and 2017.In all, agency waivers reduced biofuel blending requirements for refiners by about 2.25 billion gallons in 2016 and 2017. Biodiesel industry officials estimate producers lost about 300 million gallons from waivers.The partially redacted document shows the agency originally was allowed to grant temporary, two-year exemptions starting in 2005. In recent years, however, the agency granted exemption extensions beyond two years — including a refiner that never received a prior exemption.The EPA approved waivers for small refiners that didn’t have the minimum U.S. Department of Energy score to qualify, the brief said, and improperly considered the debts of small-refiners’ parent companies when examining waiver requests.In addition, the brief showed evidence the agency considered small-refiners’ operating losses whether or not they were related to RFS compliance. The agency also considered what small refiners might spend on biofuel credits, without looking at revenue they would later generate from sales of Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs.The Advanced Biofuels Association asked the court to declare the agency’s methodology for determining disproportionate economic hardship as “unlawful.”The group asked the court to strike down the agency’s disproportionate economic hardship policy, based on a small-refinery’s operating losses or debts held on behalf of parent companies.Attorneys for the group also asked the court to declare “unlawful” the agency’s action to grant extensions of temporary exemptions that “were not continuously subject to a temporary exemption in all preceding years or that never received a temporary exemption.”When contacted by DTN, EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said, “We don’t comment on pending litigation.”PRUITT ACTIONSAfter former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took control of the agency, EPA said in a note on a May 4, 2017, final agency decision on a small-refinery request, that it had changed its approach, although it was not made public.“In prior decisions, EPA considered that a small refinery could not show disproportionate economic hardship without showing an effect on ‘viability,’ but we are changing our approach,” the brief said.“While a showing of significant impairment of refinery operations may help establish disproportionate economic hardship, compliance with RFS obligations may impose a disproportionate economic hardship when it is disproportionately difficult for a refinery to comply with its RFS obligations — even if the refinery’s operations are not significantly impaired.”BLANKET EXEMPTIONSTemporary blanket exemptions were recognized by Congress as possibly necessary for refiners that produce 75,000 or fewer barrels of crude oil per day and would face difficulty in complying with the RFS.“Many small refineries did not have infrastructure to be able to blend renewable fuels into conventional fuels and would therefore need to rely on the purchase of RINs to meet their RFS obligations,” the brief said.As a result, Congress granted all small refineries in operation at the start of the RFS program a temporary blanket exemption from compliance with the RFS program through compliance year 2010.“At the end of the temporary blanket exemption, however, small refineries would be required to meet the same renewable fuel obligations as all other refineries, unless their exemption is extended,” the brief said.Congress ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a study on whether RFS compliance would “impose a disproportionate economic hardship on small refineries,” the brief said. The temporary exemption period came about as a result of the study.The initial temporary blanket exemption covering all 59 small refineries through 2010 then gave way to a two-year extension of the temporary exemptions to only 24 small refineries identified by the DOE, the brief said.During compliance years 2013 to 2015, on average, just 14 small refineries asked for extensions of the temporary exemptions. During that three-year period, EPA granted 23 of the 43 petitions the agency received.In 2017, the number of small refineries filing for exemptions retroactively for 2016 jumped from 14 the previous year to 20. The rate in which EPA granted these petitions also increased dramatically from 53% to 95%.“While EPA at this time did not publish any information about the number of small-refinery petitions received or granted, the small-refining industry clearly got the message that the odds of receiving an exemption had dramatically increased.”To read the full brief, visit http://www.dtn.com/….Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(CC/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Muzaffarpur rape case : former Bihar minister Manju Verma’s husband surrenders in court

first_imgChandrashekhar Verma, husband of former State Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma on Monday surrendered in a local court in Begusarai.Manju Verma had to resign from the Cabinet of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after her husband’s name had cropped up in Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case of 34 minor girls.The wife of one of the accused persons in the case had alleged that Chandrashekhar Verma visited the shelter home regularly.Chandrashekhar Verma was also accused of having links with the main accused in the case, Brajesh Thakur. He was said to have spoken with Brajesh Thakur several times between January and June this year.As many as 17 people, including the main accused Brajesh Thakur have been arrested in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case of minor girls and sent to jail.Thakur was recently shifted to Bhagalpur jail from Muzaffarpur jail as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)  had informed the Supreme Court, due to his influential status.Later, a CBI inquiry was ordered in the case which is being monitored by the Supreme Court.A Special Investigation Team of police had earlier conducted raid at residence of Chandrashekhar Verma in Begusarai district of Bihar where about 50 cartridges were recovered.Recently, Supreme Court had asked the CBI and Bihar police to explain the delay in tracing the whereabouts of Chandrashekhar Verma.The court had also asked Bihar police to probe the alleged recovery of a large quantity of ammunition from the residence of former minister and her husband.Chandrashekhar Verma surrendered at Majhaul civil court in Begusarai district.last_img read more

MOL Develops VR Tool to Prevent Onboard Accidents

first_imgzoom Japan-based Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has developed a mariner safety education tool goggle – using virtual reality (VR) technology – to help eliminate industrial accidents. Created by Tsumiki Seisaku, the tool relies on VR technology to replicate various training scenarios and work operations, which have been a difficult task until now, offering a new level of realism and immersion.As explained, the tool works on easily portable VR goggles, which make it possible for seafarers to train safely regardless of location, onboard or in an office or a training center.“This tool will increase seafarers’ safety awareness and contribute to the elimination of onboard industrial accidents caused by unsafe behavior in actual operation by using VR technology and defining safety measures,” MOL said in a statement.Initially, the training content focuses on preventing accidental falls, a major cause of injuries, and will be expanded to cover other training needs.MOL intends to introduce the tool to more vessels while expanding the range of simulated experiences to provide more training in onboard safety.What is more, the company and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES) have been jointly developing practical use applications and commercialization of the next-generation ship management support system and the current data collection and monitoring systems, providing the basis for a new system.According to MOL, this initiative will allow enhanced operating support from shore-side systems and personnel. The two companies are working to reduce the environmental impact of vessel operation by preventing problems and reducing the oil consumption, such as bunker fuel oil, which in turn cuts exhaust emissions.last_img read more

After decades of living without Samson Cree Nation one step closer to

first_imgChris StewartAPTN NewsUnlike tens of millions of other Canadians, members of the Samson Cree Nation never enjoyed reliable, fresh drinking water.But that soon may come to an end.The community broke ground on a $32.5 million upgrade to its wastewater facility.cstewart@aptn.ca@aptnchrislast_img