EPA extends E15 waiver commentary period

By Kris Bevill | May 04, 2009
Web exclusive posted May 18, 2009, at 12:06 p.m. CST

The U.S. EPA announced May 15 that it is extending the period for public comments regarding the request filed March 6 by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol producers asking for approval to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline up to 15 percent. The public comment period for the waiver request was initially set to end May 21, but will be extended for an additional 60 days and will now end July 20.

On April 17, the National Corn Growers Association sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, asking the agency to extend the comment period because farmers in the Corn Belt would be working extended hour through the duration of the original comment period and may not be able to participate. "The ethanol industry's future is tied to the outcome of this issue," NCGA President Bob Dickey said, adding that although the issue is of great importance to farmers, so is the need for them to get crops planted. (Read "NCGA files E15 commentary period extension request with U.S. EPA" for more information.)

In response to the EPA's decision to extend the comment period, Dickey said the association is proud of its state affiliates' work to encourage their members to participate. "The response has been overwhelming at a time when the farmers are overwhelmed by work in the fields," he said. "This extra time will be welcome."

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said in a statement that thousands of comments have already been submitted to the EPA and the organization is pleased that additional time is being allowed for the commentary process. "We think it's especially important that the American farmer, who is in the fields from sunrise to sunset this time of year, is given more time to get involved," he said.

The EPA said the comment period extension will not affect its decision-making timeline and that it still expects to reach a final decision by Dec. 1.

Comments can be submitted to the EPA at www.epa.gov/otaq/additive.htm