The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected a bipartisan request from 10 governors, dozens of U.S. congressmen, and a coalition of livestock and poultry groups to temporarily waive a requirement that transportation fuel be blended with ethanol.
Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005 and expanded two years later, the nation’s fuel producers must blend 3.2 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline this year, rising to 13.8 billion next year.
Waiver proponents blamed the RFS blending requirements for creating significantly higher corn prices, tighter corn availability, and increased price volatility. In her petition to the EPA, Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-NC) argued, “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.”
The Clean Air Act gives the EPA Administrator the authority to issue a waiver if meeting the renewable fuel requirements would severely harm the economy or environment of a state, a region, or the United States. Accordingly, Perdue and others said EPA should grant the waiver request.
“EPA recognizes that [the 2012] drought has created significant hardships in many sectors of the economy, particularly for livestock producers,” EPA claimed in a press statement announcing its decision, “However, the agency’s extensive analysis makes clear that Congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met and that waiving the RFS would have little, if any, impact on ethanol demand or energy prices over the time period analyzed.”
A coalition of 20 livestock, poultry, and dairy producers expressed disappointment in EPA’s decision.
“We are extremely frustrated and discouraged that EPA chose to ignore the clear economic argument from tens of thousands of family farmers and livestock and poultry producers that the food-to-fuel policy is causing and will cause severe harm to regions in which those farmers and producers operate,” said the coalition in a press statement.
Dave Banks (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is director of D.C. operations for the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions.
“Livestock, Dairy, Poultry Producers Say RFS Is ‘Broken’: EPA Denies Ethanol Mandate Waiver Requests from Governors, Coalition, Congress,” National Pork Producers Council: http://www.nppc.org/2012/11/livestock-poultry-dairy-producers-say-rfs-is-broken/