New Jersey governor considers RFS waiver petition

By Kris Bevill | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 20, 2008 at 3:25 p.m. CST

Gov. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., is considering filing a waiver request with the U.S. EPA asking that the federal renewable fuels standard (RFS) be either reduced or frozen at the 2008 level. The potential request is being pushed by the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, which issued a press release on Aug. 14 urging the governor to "get rid of ethanol."

"Ethanol mandates have been a boondoggle, raising the cost of food as well as fuel and causing environmental harm in the process," the release stated. "Therefore, the Sierra Club is calling on Gov. Corzine to opt New Jersey out of the federal ethanol mandate."
Elaine Makatura, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the governor has not made a decision on whether he will file a waiver request with the EPA, adding that Corzine began considering filing the request before Texas Gov. Rick Perry's request was denied. Makatura said she isn't aware that the EPA's denial has changed Corzine's course of action.
"He has environmental concerns over how the ethanol is produced and we are a state that has farming," Makatura said, adding that the governor opposes using New Jersey farm products for "something other than at the table."

The EPA denied Perry's request to reduce the RFS by 50 percent on Aug. 7. At that time, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said the basis for the denial would serve as the framework for future waiver requests.

That basis for consideration calls for any request to prove that implementation of the RFS as mandated would severely harm the economy of a state, a region or the entire United States. The EPA would have to determine that implementation of the mandate itself would cause such harm rather than only contribute to a problem.

The EPA also stated that reducing the current RFS would have no impact on current ethanol production volumes, and therefore no impact on corn, food or fuel prices. A waiver request would have to prove otherwise in order to be considered for approval.