June 25, 2021
Decided June 25, 2021
HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association, No. 20-472
Today, the Supreme Court held 6-3 that the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to exempt a small refinery from compliance with the renewable fuel standards program, even if the small refinery had not received an exemption each year since the program commenced in 2011.
The renewable fuel standard program in the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) requires refiners and importers of transportation fuel to blend certain amounts of renewable fuels into their products. The CAA exempted small refineries from the program until 2011, and provided that small refineries could “at any time petition [the EPA] for an extension of the exemption … for the reason of disproportionate economic hardship.” The EPA granted exemptions to three small refineries that had not continuously received exemptions since 2011. The Tenth Circuit vacated the EPA’s exemption orders, holding that a small refinery may not receive “an extension of the exemption” unless it has a continuous, unbroken history of exemptions since the program commenced.
Whether the EPA may grant an extension of the hardship exemption to a small refinery that has not received continuous extensions of the initial exemption for every year since 2011.
The EPA may grant extensions of the hardship exemption to small refineries that have not received prior extensions because the CAA permits small refineries to petition EPA “at any time.”
“[T]he key phrase at issue before us … means exactly what it says: A small refinery can apply for … a hardship extension ‘at any time.’”
Justice Gorsuch, writing for the Court
What It Means:
The Court’s opinion is available here.
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