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Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit

This document has a comment period that ends in 18 days. (02/03/2021) Submit a formal comment

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Notice of proposed consent decree; request for public comment.


In accordance with the Clean Air Act, as amended (CAA or the Act), notice is given of a proposed consent decree in United Refining Co. v. Wheeler, No. 20-cv-1956 (D.D.C.). On July 7, 2020, United Refining Co. (United) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) failed to perform a certain non-discretionary duty. United alleges that EPA failed to take final action on its petition for a small refinery hardship exemption from its 2019 obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program established by the Clean Air Act. The proposed consent decree would establish a deadline for EPA to act on the petition.


Written comments on the proposed consent decree must be received by February 3, 2021.


Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OGC-2020-0652, online at (EPA's preferred method). Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket ID number for this action. Comments received may be posted without change to​, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on sending comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the “Additional Information about Commenting on the Proposed Consent Decree” heading under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. Out of an abundance of caution for members of the public and our staff, the EPA Docket Center and Reading Room are closed to the public, with limited exceptions, to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Our Docket Center staff will continue to provide remote customer service via email, phone, and webform. We encourage the public to submit comments via, as there may be a delay in processing mail and faxes. Start Printed Page 89Hand-deliveries and couriers may be received by scheduled appointment only. For further information on EPA Docket Center services and the current status, please visit us online at​dockets.

EPA continues to carefully and continuously monitor information from the CDC, local area health departments, and our federal partners so that we can respond rapidly as conditions change regarding COVID-19.

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Meredith G. Miller, Air and Radiation Law Office (2344A), Office of General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone (202) 564-8572; email address

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I. Obtaining a Copy of the Proposed Consent Decree

The official public docket for this action (identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OGC-2020-0652) contains a copy of the proposed consent decree.

The electronic version of the public docket for this action contains a copy of the proposed consent decree, and is available through You may use to submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, key in the appropriate docket identification number then select “search.”

II. Additional Information About the Proposed Consent Decree

The proposed consent decree would require EPA to act on United's petition for a small refinery hardship exemption from its 2019 RFS obligations. On or about December 18, 2019, United submitted its petition seeking a small refinery exemption from the RFS program pursuant to CAA section 211(o). 42 U.S.C. 7545(o). CAA section 211(o)(9)(B)(iii) provides a 90-day deadline for the Administrator to act on such petitions. 42 U.S.C. 211(o)(9)(B)(iii). EPA has not acted on the petition. The proposed consent decree would require the Administrator to either grant or deny United's petition for a 2019 small refinery hardship exemption no later than February 19, 2021.

In accordance with section 113(g) of the CAA, for a period of thirty (30) days following the date of publication of this document, the Agency will accept written comments relating to the proposed consent decree. EPA or the Department of Justice may withdraw or withhold consent to the proposed consent decree if the comments disclose facts or considerations that indicate that such consent is inappropriate, improper, inadequate, or inconsistent with the requirements of the Act.

III. Additional Information About Commenting on the Proposed Consent Decree

Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OGC-2020-0652, via Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from this docket. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit to EPA's docket at any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit​dockets/​commenting-epa-dockets. For additional information about submitting information identified as CBI, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. Note that written comments containing CBI and submitted by mail may be delayed and deliveries or couriers will be received by scheduled appointment only.

If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name, mailing address, and an email address or other contact information in the body of your comment. This ensures that you can be identified as the submitter of the comment and allows EPA to contact you in case EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties or needs further information on the substance of your comment. Any identifying or contact information provided in the body of a comment will be included as part of the comment that is placed in the official public docket and made available in EPA's electronic public docket. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment.

Use of the website to submit comments to EPA electronically is EPA's preferred method for receiving comments. The electronic public docket system is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity, email address, or other contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment.

Please ensure that your comments are submitted within the specified comment period. Comments received after the close of the comment period will be marked “late.” EPA is not required to consider these late comments.

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Gautam Srinivasan,

Associate General Counsel.

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[FR Doc. 2020-29078 Filed 12-31-20; 8:45 am]