Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a request submitted by the State of Texas to reduce the nationwide Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). As a result, the required total volume of renewable fuels mandated by law to be blended into the fuel supply, including ethanol and biodiesel, will remain at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009.
The request was made in April by Texas governor Rick Perry, who requested a 50 per cent waiver from the RFS on the grounds that the demand for corn as a feedstock for ethanol production was increasing the price of corn, and in turn, the prices of meat, milk and other food products.
“After reviewing the facts, it was clear this request did not meet the criteria in the law,” said EPA Adminstrator Stephen L. Johnson. “The RFS remains an important tool in our ongoing efforts to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil, in aggressive yet practical ways.”
Current law authorizes the EPA to waive the national RFS if the agency determines that the mandated biofuel volumes would cause “severe harm” to the economy or to the environment. The agency said it recognized that high commodity prices are having economic effects, but its extensive analysis of Texas’ request found “no compelling evidence that the RFS mandate is causing severe economic harm during the time period specified by Texas.”
This marked the first time there has been a request for an RFS-related waiver. In a Federal Register notice, the EPA is publishing a detailed rationale that will also serve as a framework for any future waiver considerations.