Mike Adams, the host of AgriTalk, hosted a live radio broadcast at the 2013 Farm Journal Forum that included an interview with Sarah Bittleman, agriculture counselor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bittleman said that "constant, consistent communication" is key to moving past a confrontational relationship between agriculture and the EPA. She says common goals between these entities share common goals, including "cleaner water, cleaner air and cleaner land and leaving a better environment for our children and our children's children," they have incentive to work on these goals together.
Asked about how much of an impact feedback during the open comment period for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has on EPA's final rule, Bittleman responded, "It is an honest to goodness proposed rule," and when EPA has a public comment period, "it is an honest to goodness solicitation of public comment on what that proposed rule says." Therefore, Bittleman says the hearings that took place yesterday are a "very important process" for gathering "real-time information... to enter into the discussion." It is not just a numbers game, Bittleman explains. It is about taking all of the data and making it into a final rule.
It's impossible to predict what EPA will ultimately decide on the final 2014 RFS volumes based on yesterday's hearing, according to Grant Menke, policy director with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, who testified at the hearing. But he says the most important outcome of the hearing was the "overwhelming show of support for the RFS."
Menke elaborates, "For over 12 hours, EPA heard testimony from the vast majority of speakers emphasizing how the RFS is working: how it benefits their business or farm; how it benefits their job, their family and their community; how it benefits our nation's economy, environment and energy security; and how EPA's misguided proposal to slash the RFS would slash these benefits as well."
Menke says the 60-day public comment period, which is now open, will be the "ultimate opportunity for RFS supporters to make their case as to why this proposal needs to be rejected."
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