As expected, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson announced Thursday that EPA will not grant the waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard requested by Texas Governor Rick Perry.
"EPA has denied a request submitted by the state of Texas to reduce the nationwide Renewable Fuels Standard," Johnson said. "As a result the required total volume of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel mandated by law to be blended into the fuel supply will remain at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009."
The waiver request had asked for a 50% reduction of the blending requirement. EPA staff conducted detailed analysis, consulted with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and carefully considered the more than 15,000 public comments that the agency received.
"We examined the impact a waiver would have on ethanol use, corn prices, food prices and fuel prices," Johnson says. "This research found that the RFS mandate is not causing severe economic harm. Rather the RFS is strengthening our nation's energy security and supporting America's farming communities."
The Renewable Fuels Association released a statement praising the EPA's decision on the waiver, calling it a victory for all Americans.
"At the end of the day, the EPA rejected the waiver request for failing to present sufficient evidence showing that the RFS was causing severe harm to the US or even to the Texas economy," said RFA President Bob Dinneen. "Rightly, the EPA took notice of studies by Texas A&M University, Purdue University, and others which clearly state that skyrocketing oil prices are the main driver behind higher corn prices. These studies also lay bare the fact that reducing the RFS would have minimal impact on the price of corn."
The EPA's official notice of the decision to deny the waiver request details the deliberate and careful review of the request, which will serve as a framework for future waiver requests.
"The agency recognizes that a number of factors have contributed to high corn, food and fuel prices as a nation and we must work to address these challenges," Johnson said. "The RFS mandate, however, will remain an important tool in our ongoing effort to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil in aggressive, yet practical ways."