RFS waiver request commentary period ends

By Kris Bevill | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 30, 2008 at 11:59 a.m. CST

The 30-day commentary period to respond to a waiver request submitted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry asking the U.S. EPA for a 50 percent reduction in this year's renewable fuels standard (RFS) ended June 23. The EPA has 30 days to consider the comments and issue a response.

Perry submitted his RFS reduction request to the EPA on April 25, apparently after receiving pressure by Texas cattle and food industries to alleviate increasing operating costs. If granted, Perry's request would reduce the amount of required renewable fuel required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to 4.5 billion gallons produced in 2008.

Nearly 15,000 comments were received by the EPA during the 30-day commentary period. Many comments were repetitive statements from individual members of large companies. Other interest groups chose to submit longer comments as one letter representing all of the group's members. The poultry and cattle industries, various agricultural agencies, as well as the ethanol industry all submitted comments to the EPA.

Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen said in his statement that the EPA has no choice but to deny the waiver request because it's "incomplete, legally insufficient and factually misdirected."

"Congress enacted a narrowly crafted waiver provision - with a high burden of proof - because it wanted to ensure that the goals of the EPA and EISA would be met in all but the most extreme circumstances," Dinneen said, adding that Perry's petition does not present evidence that the mandate is causing severe harm to the United States economy.

Keith Bolan, president of the American Corn Growers Association, said the ACGA is "adamantly opposed" to the RFS waiver request and listed six reasons why the EPA should deny Perry's request.

Perry, along with members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, held a news conference June 24 to reiterate the waiver request to the EPA. Many poultry and cattle industry members commented on the Midwest flooding as further reason to waive half of the renewable fuel standard.

This is the first waiver request submitted to the EPA since the RFS was put in place last September. Fuel waivers have been handled on a fairly regular basis by the EPA and have become standard operation, according to an EPA spokesman. However, most fuel waivers have been localized. The RFS waiver would have national effects and is, therefore, an unprecedented request.