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North Dakota Farmers Union expressed disappointment Wednesday to a policy change exempting certain oil refineries from Renewable Fuel Standard requirements.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is exempting refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels a day from renewable fuel requirements if they can demonstrate they suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” from RFS compliance costs, NDFU President Mark Watne said.

Watne said this will allow Andeavor, one of the nation’s largest oil refining companies, from complying with the biofuels regulation at three of its refineries despite the corporation’s net profits of nearly $1.5 billion last year.

Watne said the move is unfortunate, considering the low commodity prices and overall decline in farm income.

“Farmers are told to get prices from the marketplace, yet our government is creating a market atmosphere that reduces demand and causes prices to drop,” he said in a statement. “When farmers need this administration the most, we are getting broken promises.”

Andeavor declined to comment on which refineries received the exemptions and why the exemptions were sought, citing business confidentiality.

According to a report by Reuters, the exemptions applied to Andeavor's three smallest refineries. Watne also said the exemptions were for ethanol and not for biodiesel or another biofuel.

On its website, Andeavor shows the Mandan Refinery as one of its three smallest refineries that produces gasoline, requiring ethanol and making it a potential candidate for the exemption. The Mandan Refinery has a capacity of 74,000 barrels per day.

Other small refineries include Kenai, Alaska, and Salt Lake City. Andeavor's refinery in Dickinson, which it purchased from MDU Resources Corp., is a diesel fuel refinery, rather than making gasoline, with a 20,000 barrels-per-day capacity.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter