Renewable Fuel Standard Program

Renewable Fuel Standard Exemptions for Small Refineries

Important Note

Regulated parties may use this web page to aid in understanding the exemptions. However, the information posted here does not in any way alter the requirements of the regulations and does not establish or change legal rights or obligations. Please refer to the applicable regulations under which you are requesting an exemption for specific information about application requirements.


For further information about hardship exemptions, please email:

Under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, a small refinery may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) if it can demonstrate that compliance with the RVOs would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship. This web page provides information about the exemption available to small refineries and about the process for requesting an exemption.

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The Clean Air Act (CAA) mandates that transportation fuel sold or introduced into commerce in the United States contain minimum volumes of renewable fuel. EPA implements this mandate through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. RFS regulations require obligated parties (fuel refiners and importers) to satisfy the volume obligations: by blending renewable fuels into their gasoline or diesel fuel products, or by acquiring credits that represent the required renewable fuel volume. The CAA includes a temporary exemption from renewable fuel volume obligations for small refineries. Small refineries seeking exemption must petition EPA. The exemption may be granted only if EPA determines, based on supporting evidence provided in the petition, that compliance with RFS obligations will impose "disproportionate economic hardship" on the refinery in the year for which exemption is requested. The RFS regulations define a small refinery as one with an average crude oil input no greater than 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude in 2006. Additionally, the small refinery may not have an average aggregate daily crude oil throughput greater than 75,000 bpd in the most recent full calendar year prior to submitting a petition, and cannot be projected to exceed the 75,000 bpd threshold in the year or years for which it is seeking an exemption.

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How to Submit a Petition for Exemption

Follow these steps to submit a Small Refinery Disproportionate Economic Hardship Petition:

STEP 1: Determine whether you qualify for exemption.

The following regulations describe the conditions that must exist for EPA to grant an exemption.

STEP 2: If you qualify, prepare full documentation to support your claim of hardship.

Documentation will typically include, but is not necessarily limited to:

STEP 3: Submit your petition using one of the methods below.

Submission method Address
Electronic Brent Williams 
U.S. Mail Attn: RFS Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mail Code 6405A
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Overnight or courier services Attn: RFS Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
William Jefferson Clinton Building North
Mail Code 6405A Room 6520V
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Telephone: 800-385-6164

STEP 4: EPA will review the petition.

  • EPA will evaluate the submission to determine whether an exemption may be granted, based on information presented by the petitioning refinery and on the statutory and regulatory requirements for  exemption.
  • EPA will issue a decision within 90 days of receiving complete supporting information for the request from the small refinery.  

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