by Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor
OMAHA (DTN) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has missed the deadline on making a decision about waiving the Renewable Fuels Standard, but will make a decision “shortly.”
The 90-day deadline ended Monday for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to respond to petitions to waive the RFS for 2012 and 2013. In an email, an EPA spokeswoman said the agency is still working on the waiver requests from the governors of Arkansas and North Carolina.
“EPA is completing its review and analysis of the RFS waiver requests and the agency plans to reach a decision shortly,” an email to DTN stated Tuesday.
The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas petitioned Jackson in August to consider a waiver, thus starting the ticking clock on a ruling from the agency. In her letter, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue wrote that the imposition of a 15.2-billion-gallon RFS this year, coupled with a 16.55-billion-gallon demand in 2013 “has imposed severe economic harm to my state's swine, poultry, dairy, and cattle-producing regions.” Further, Perdue's letter said the impact goes beyond consumers and livestock producers to affect other support industries as well.
“While the severe drought that our nation has experienced is an underlying factor in current economic conditions, the direct harm is caused by the RFS requirement to utilize ever-increasing amounts of corn and soybeans for transportation fuel, severely increasing the costs of producing food and further depleting already severely stressed grain supplies,” Perdue wrote.
The vast majority of the RFS mandate comes from corn-based ethanol, which livestock producers argue has been the main reason that prices for commodities such as corn and soybeans have soared since the RFS was raised in 2007 legislation.
Under a petition process, the EPA administrator can waive the RFS for a given year. If a waiver is granted, all fuel suppliers would see their requirements lowered. But to issue a waiver, EPA must determine that either there isn't enough fuel supply or that continuing with the RFS “would severely harm the economy or the environment of a state, region or the country.”
Governors in Delaware and Maryland also wrote Jackson as well, but their letters were not officially considered petitions to waive the RFS. Livestock groups have also been pushing for a waiver since last summer as a way to lower commodity prices. There are disagreements among economists just how much commodity prices or ethanol demand would be lowered by an RFS waiver.
Ethanol backers such as the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and Growth Energy all oppose the waiver requests and argue the standards have not been met for EPA to grant a waiver.
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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp