EPA Posts Notice Opening 30-day Public Comment Period on RFS Waiver Request

August 21, 2012 01:24 AM
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Agency has until Nov. 13 to make decision

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The EPA posted a notice in the Federal Register on Monday opening up a 30-day public comment period on a waiver request from several governors regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas asked the agency last week to temporarily waive the US mandate on ethanol made from corn, citing the worst drought in 50 years has driven corn prices higher and hurt livestock producers who depend on the grain for feed.

The 30-day comment period will begin once the notice is published in the Federal Register. "This notice is in keeping with EPA's commitment to an open and transparent process to evaluate requests the agency receives under the Clean Air Act, and does not indicate any predisposition to a specific decision," agency spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said in a statement.

By law the agency has until November 13 to make a decision on the waiver, meaning EPA could act on the requests after national elections on November 6.

EPA requests comments specifically including (but not limited to) information on:

(a) whether compliance with the RFS would severely harm the economy of Arkansas, North Carolina, other States, a region, or the United States;

(b) whether the relief requested will remedy the harm;

(c) to what extent, if any, a waiver would change demand for ethanol and affect prices of corn, other feedstocks, feed, and food;

(d) the amount of ethanol that is likely to be consumed in the U.S. during the relevant time period, based on its value to refiners for octane and other characteristics and other market conditions in the absence of the RFS volume requirements; and

(e) if a waiver were appropriate, the amount of required renewable fuel volume appropriate to waive, the date on which any waiver should commence and end, and to which compliance years it would apply.

EPA also noted that those submitting comments should “include data or specific examples in support of their comments in order to aid the Administrator in evaluating the requests for a waiver and determining what action if any is appropriate in light of all of the circumstances.”

While the Federal Register notice specifically lists the requests from the governors of Arkansas and North Carolina as requesting a waiver, the EPA noted, “Other organizations and individuals – including among others the Governors of the States of Delaware and Maryland, the National Pork Producers Council, the Dairy Farmers of America, and various Members of Congress – have also submitted letters either requesting the Administrator utilize her authority to waive RFS volume requirements or expressing support for the granting of a volume waiver.”

Also, should additional requests come in, EPA said, those would be “considered together with requests already received.”

The document also carries an extensive discussion of the last waiver request submitted in 2008 by Texas that was denied.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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