The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a financial hardship waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, exempting the Oklahoma facility from requirements under a federal biofuels law, according to two industry sources briefed on the matter.
The waiver enables Icahn’s CVR Energy Inc to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The regulation is meant to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports and support corn farmers by requiring refiners to mix billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel each year.
The Small Refiners Coalition, which represents companies that operate small refining facilities, has defended the EPA’s waiver program, saying the EPA is required by law to help small refineries struggling with the RFS and that the exemptions are crucial to their financial well-being.
But the exemption for CVR’s Wynnewood, Oklahoma, plant prompted fresh criticism from the powerful corn lobby, which already has accused Trump’s EPA of over-using the hardship waiver program in a way that hurts demand for ethanol.