EPA opens comment period on RFS waivers

By Erin Voegele | August 21, 2012

The U.S. EPA is requesting public comments on the renewable fuel standard (RFS) waiver requests that were filed by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue in mid-August.

EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the public comment notice on August 20. The EPA then submitted the notice to the Federal Register for publication. Following publication of the notice in the Federal Register, comments will be accepted for 30 days.

Members of the public can submit comments in several ways, including online, by email, fax, mail, or hand delivery. Full instructions are included in the EPA’s notice. All comments must be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0632.

Beebe issued a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on August 13, asking for the agency to consider a temporary waiver of the ethanol volume requirements of the RFS. He filed a similar waiver with the EPA four years ago.

According to Beebe, the RFS program has caused suffering in his state due to higher feed costs. “The higher feed costs, following the passage of RFS1 in 2005 and RFS2 in 2007, have resulted in a long-term shortage in grain in our nation, especially corn, and are clearly taking a terrible toll on Arkansas’s poultry and animal agriculture, potentially forcing reduced production and job losses and increasing food prices for consumers worldwide,” Beebe said in his letter. “Virtually all of Arkansas is suffering from severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions. The declining outlook for this year’s corn crop and accelerating prices for corn and other grains are having a severe economic impact on the state, particularly on our poultry and cattle sectors. While the drought may have triggered the price spike in corn, an underlying cause is the federal policy mandating ever-increasing amounts of corn for fuel.”

The letter that Perdue sent to Jackson on August 14 included similar claims against the RFS. “The imposition of a 15.2 billion gallon renewable fuel standard (“RFS”) in 2012, coupled with the prospect of a 16.55 billion gallon standard in 2012, has imposed severe economic harm to my state’s swine, poultry, dairy, and cattle producing regions,” she said. “This affects not only the economic interest of consumers and livestock and poultry producers within my state, but also the many other industries which provide support services to this important economic sector and the benefit from economic growth and development that our robust livestock and poultry industries have provided.”