EPA denies RFS waiver

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2012- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its decision today to deny a request to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate for the production of corn ethanol.

In August, governors from several states requested a waiver of the national volume requirements for the RFS. EPA announced today its analysis “makes clear that Congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met and that waiving the RFS would have minimal impact on ethanol demand.”

“EPA finds that the evidence and information does not support a determination that implementation of the RFS program during the 2012-2013 time period would severely harm the economy of a State, a region, or the United States. EPA is therefore denying the requests for a waiver,” according to the EPA notice

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While several energy groups and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) expressed praise for the decision, several livestock and poultry groups are disappointed.

“In light of the most widespread drought to face the country in more than 50 years, the refusal to grant this waiver is a blatant example of the flawed policy of the RFS,” said National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President J.D. Alexander. “The artificial support for corn ethanol provided for by the RFS is only making the situation worse for cattlemen and women by driving up feed costs.”

A coalition of livestock, poultry and dairy organizations said in a press release today the RFS requires 13.8 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.5 billion bushels of the nation's corn crop.

“Cattlemen and women are only asking for a level playing field,” Alexander said. “With EPA's refusal to grant a waiver when faced with these conditions, it is clear the RFS is not working as Congress intended.”  

The National Council of Chain Restaurants and other groups also claimed the RFS is “broken.”

“This year's catastrophic drought seriously reduced corn yields and has led to a situation where the RFS' unsustainable mandates force ethanol fuel to commandeer a shrunken pool of available corn for food and livestock feed,” sad Executive Director Rob Green.

However, NCGA President Pam Johnson said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson “appropriately recognized petitioners did not properly prove severe nationwide economic harm had occurred thereby creating no justification for a waiver of the RFS.”

“The ethanol industry plays a pivotal role in job creation throughout the country supporting over 400,000 jobs nationwide,” she said. “This includes many in ethanol plants in rural America.  The RFS advances the use of domestically produced renewable fuels, encourages new technologies and enhances U.S. energy independence.”

Several energy and technology groups also praised EPA for a “logic-based decision to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) said today the decision will protect America's energy security and maintain the industry's progress in commercializing advanced biofuels. BIO previously submitted comments to the agency noting that any waiver of the RFS would harm biofuel producers and biotechnology companies across the United States.

CEO of Growth Energy, Tom Buis, said today's announcement is welcome news to the renewable fuels industry. 

“Today's decision confirms what we knew all along - the petitioners were wrong in their belief that the RFS caused the economic harm,” Buis said.

 

“Granting a waiver on the evidence presented by the obligated parties would have sent the wrong signal the investment community, whose participation is vital to the reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs in the US that cannot be outsourced, improving our environment and saving consumers at the pump,” he added.

 

For more on EPA's decision, go here: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/notices.htm

 

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