EPA denies RFS waiver request

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted August 7, 2008 at 5:04 p.m. CST

U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced Aug. 7 the denial of the renewable fuels standard (RFS) waiver request submitted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. As a result, Johnson said the required total volume of renewable fuels to be blended into the nation's fuel will remain 9 billion gallons for 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009. "The renewable fuels standard is not causing severe economic harm," he said, adding that the agency determined there is "no compelling evidence" that the RFS has been a factor in the impact that high commodity prices have had on the economy.

Johnson said the RFS will remain an important tool in America's effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and lessen its dependence on foreign oil. The EPA has published a detailed rationale that will serve as the framework for future waiver considerations. The EPA's decision can be viewed at www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's Industrial & Environmental Section, said the EPA's decision allows the companies that have been racing to complete advanced biofuels technology to continue. "There are currently more than 30 facilities across the United States planned, under construction or beginning operation to pioneer production of advanced biofuels made from renewable resources such as corn stalks, grasses, wood chips and even trash," he said. BIO President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Greenwood added, "Moving backward to a time where supplies of corn outpaced demand is not a possibility."

Rob Skjonsberg, vice president of government affairs at Poet, LLC, also applauded the decision, saying the ruling gives Poet confidence to continue its work toward developing commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities. "With stability in the marketplace, our industry can do even more to improve the environment and lessen our country's dependence on foreign oil," he said.

Perry submitted his request to the EPA in late April, asking for a 50 percent reduction in the 2008 renewable fuel requirement that calls for 9 billion gallons of consumption nationwide. Perry requested that the number be reduced to 4.5 billion gallons.