Hardship: Court provides relief from EPA burden

When Congress developed the 2005 Energy Policy Act, it included a renewable fuel standard meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand renewable fuels use. At the time, however, members of Congress also understood it would be necessary to grant waivers to small refineries that might suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” in complying with the standards. Their intent was to make small moves toward reducing pollution without destroying parts of the economy.

Of course, a few years later, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency abandoned that measure of common sense and added the RFS to its arsenal for attacking certain regional companies — and economies — no matter how small.

Now, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is trying to undo some of that damage. The court has vacated and remanded the EPA’s denial of a 2016 petition for small refinery hardship filed by Ergon — West Virginia, Inc., in Newell, W.Va., under the RFS.

By 2016, EWV’s costs directly attributable to the RFS were its third highest operating expense, after raw materials and labor.

Too bad, said the EPA.

Despite being in precisely the situation Congress envisioned when creating the provision, EWV was denied — improperly and spitefully — a waiver by the EPA.

Perhaps the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling will encourage others in their fight against an EPA still merrily carrying out its political agenda with little regard for the people living in the environment they are pretending to protect. Certainly other courts should follow its lead.

Meanwhile, relieved of the burden with which the EPA tried to crush it, family-owned EWV will be free to expand its investments not only in more environmentally friendly processes and technologies, but also in being “a strong employer and good steward of the environment, making positive contributions to the communities in which we serve,” according to Kris Patrick, its president.

May there be many more similar victories to come.

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