EPA denies Texas' waiver request

The US Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request submitted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a 50% waiver from the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) mandate for corn-based ethanol.

Aug 7th, 2008

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Aug. 7 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request submitted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a 50% waiver from the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) mandate for corn-based ethanol.

The RFS, part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, requires increased national production of renewable biofuels to 36 billion gal/year by 2022 from 9 billion gal/year in 2008.

Perry blamed increased demand for corn-based ethanol for contributing to escalating corn prices, which he said contributes to higher food prices and also higher costs for livestock feed (OGJ Online, July 22, 2008).

EPA said it recognized that high commodity prices have economic impacts but that an extensive analysis found no compelling evidence that the RFS mandate is causing severe economic harm during the time period specified by Texas.

Current law authorizes EPA to waive the national RFS if the agency determines that the mandated biofuel volumes would cause "severe harm" to the economy or the environment.

"After reviewing the facts, it was clear this request did not meet the criteria in the law," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said during a conference call with reporters from Washington, DC, on Aug. 7.

EPA conducted detailed analysis, consulted closely with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and considered more than 15,000 public comments. This was the first RFS-related waiver request.

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