EPA denies RFS waiver request

By Kris Bevill | August 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 12, 2008 at 1:24 p.m. CST

The U.S. EPA has denied the renewable fuels standard (RFS) waiver request submitted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in late April. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced the decision Aug. 7 and said that, as a result, the required total volume of renewable fuels to be blended into the nation's fuel will remain 9 billion gallons for 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009. Perry had asked for the RFS to be reduced to 4.5 billion gallons for 2008.

"The renewable fuels standard is not causing severe economic harm," Johnson said, adding the agency determined there is "no compelling evidence" that the RFS has been a factor in the high commodity prices that have impacted the economy.

Johnson said the RFS remains an important tool in America's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and lessen its dependence on foreign oil. The EPA has published a detailed rationale that will serve as the framework for future waiver considerations. The EPA's decision can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels.

The National Biodiesel Board applauded the EPA's decision. "We appreciate the EPA taking a careful approach to the waiver request and agree with their determination that it should be denied," said NBB Chief Executive Officer Joe Jobe, adding that it's important to note that the EPA's decision affects all biofuels, not just corn ethanol, and had the waiver been granted the growth of advanced biofuels, including biodiesel, would have been severely hindered.

Other biofuel organizations echoed the NBB's praise for the EPA, include the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance. The organization's executive director, Joshua Morby, said the RFS is an important piece of legislature for the nation's economy and the environment. "While biofuels are not the silver bullet for all of our energy concerns, they deserve to play a large role in our nation's energy future, and that's exactly what the EPA has decided," he said.

Members of the poultry, livestock and grocery manufacturing industries voiced their disappointment and concern over the agency's decision. "We are all, obviously, very surprised," said Joel Brandenburger, president of the National Turkey Federation. He said that if the EPA can lawfully determine that the RFS is not impacting the economy, "there is something wrong with the law." The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Chicken Council and other similar organizations plan to take their complaints to the U.S. Congress in hopes that it will pass legislation to alter the RFS.
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