HollyFrontier Cheyenne Ref. v. Renewable Fuels Ass'n

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: January 8, 2021
  • Case #: 20-472
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 948 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2020)
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to qualify for a hardship exemption under § 7545(o)(9)(B)(i) of the Renewable Fuel Standards, does a small refinery need to receive uninterrupted, continuous hardship exemptions for every year since 2011.

Each year, refiners, blenders, and importers of transportation fuel are required to blend renewable fuels, in increasing amounts, into their products under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress found that this new standard could harm small refineries, so it created an exception for these small refineries, provided that these small refineries could show “disproportionate economic hardship.” To do this, the small refinery had to file a petition, under 42 U.S.C. § 7545(o)(9)(B)(i), with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an exemption “at any time.”  Petitioner argues that the Tenth Circuit's interpretation, that the small refinery may only apply for the hardship exception if it had yearly uninterrupted, continuous exemption extensions since 2011, goes against the principles of statutory interpretation and Supreme Court precedent.  Petitioner argues that Congress constructed the statute with the purpose that the exemption should be available “at any time” in order to protect the small refineries and that the lower court’s ruling would essentially exclude nearly all small refineries that could apply for the exemption.  No other court of appeals has ruled the same as the Tenth Circuit.

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