The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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, Reuters reported.
According to two industry sources briefed on the matter, the waiver allows Icahn’s CVR Energy Inc to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs as part of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
The regulation requires companies to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports as well as support corn farmers by demanding oil refiners to mix billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel market each year.
The Small Refiners Coalition, which is made of companies that have small refining facilities, defended the EPA’s move, saying that 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.”
Meanwhile, the exemption for CVR’s Wynnewood, Oklahoma, plant sparked criticism from the powerful corn lobby. The corn lobby accused Trump’s EPA of overusing the hardship waiver program in a way that hurts demand for ethanol.
“This one’s going to be hard for (Scott) Pruitt to explain,” Brooke Coleman, head of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council industry group, said in referance to the EPA administrator.
Reuters wrote that CVR spokeswoman Brandee Stephens declined to comment as well as EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman.
Also, attempts to reach Icahn and his attorney for comment were not successful.
Icahn was one the earliest supporters of Trump’s 2016 presidential run and a key investor on Wall Street.
Icahn had a meeting with Pruitt when he was being vetted in 2016 for the EPA administrator job.
However, Icahn resigned his position as special regulatory adviser to Trump last August as a result of Democratic lawmakers citing potential ethical problems in his dual role as an adviser and an investor.