RFS waiver comment period extended 15 days to Oct. 11

By Holly Jessen | September 12, 2012

The 30-day comment period on the renewable fuel standard waiver request has been extended 15 days. Although not yet officially published in the Federal Register, the EPA announced that Gina McCarthy, U.S. EPA assistant administrator for the office of Air and Radiation, signed a notice Sept. 10, which extends the comment period to Oct. 11.

The National Corn Growers Association said Sept. 11 that it was pleased with the decision. The NCGA sent a letter to the EPA the end of August, requesting the comment period be extended to 60 total days, an increase of 30 days. The letter pointed out that the NCGA’s more than 38,000 members are in the midst of harvest. “Given the demands of harvest I am concerned that the proposed 30 day comment period will not provide sufficient time for a thorough analysis of the proposed waiver and would hinder farmer participation in this important policy process,” said Garry Niemeyer, president of NCGA in the letter. “Also, with the crop still in the field, it is too early to determine this year’s final corn supply.”

On the other hand, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy said he thought the 30-day comment period was adequate, without an extension. Regardless, the EPA will still need to make a decision on the waiver request in 90 days, he pointed out. Buis spoke on the subject briefly during a conference call held Sept. 12, during which several members discussed the importance of the RFS. In an email statement to Ethanol Producer Magazine, the Renewable Fuels Association spokesperson said that organization also believed the extension was not necessary.

As of midday Sept. 12, nearly 300 public comments were submitted online at the Federal Register. Comments can also be submitted in person in Washington, D.C., by mail, email or fax. In 2008, when a partial waiver request was denied by the EPA, more than 15,000 public comments were received, the NCGA said. In addition to public comments, 15 supporting documents are posted online, including the letter from Iowa’s Gov. Terry Brandstad, in support of the RFS, and letters supporting an RFS waiver.