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Inside the Beltway: "EPA Stamps 'Denied' on Texas Waiver Request"
by Eric Washburn

It’s nice to know that when it is called upon, the federal system for granting waivers put in place as part of the original Renewable Fuels Standard does work as intended. As most know, on April 25 Texas Governor Perry requested that EPA grant a waiver from the RFS. This request came in the wake of a much-publicized $100,000 contribution from Bo Pilgrim of poultry company Pilgrim’s Pride to the National Republican Governors Association, which Perry chairs. The waiver request was supported by livestock feeders and other users of corn in Texas and elsewhere who have been seeking to reduce ethanol demand and thus lower corn prices.

After a roughly two-month-long public notice and comment period, during which the EPA studied more than 15,000 comments, it announced in early August that there was no legitimate basis for granting the Governor’s request and so formally denied it. In doing so, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson stated, “After reviewing the facts, it was clear that this request did not meet the criteria in the law… The RFS remains an important tool in our ongoing efforts to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil in aggressive, yet practical ways.”

Tellingly, the agency said that “EPA is denying Texas’ waiver request because the evidence in this case does not support a determination that implementation of the RFS mandate during the time period at issue (September 1, 2008 to August 31, 2009) would severely harm to economy of a state, region, or the United States.”

While in some respects this has been a painful process for the ethanol industry to watch, following on the heels of months of well-financed and misleading attacks on ethanol, it has been an extremely healthy one for us. The denial of the waiver resulted from a rigorous analysis of the facts by EPA, which has no ax to grind on this matter. As such, it proves a basic contention that ACE has made for a long time – that the most important task of the industry is to get out the truth about biofuels, because the facts are on our side. And as those facts are increasingly revealed, the well-financed ethanol attack campaign will wither in credibility and effectiveness.

There may be more waiver applications in the future; it is rumored that New Jersey Governor Corzine is contemplating a new waiver request. But as more attacks are launched in the future and as the industry and agencies like EPA sort through them, it will become increasingly apparent to the public that the case against ethanol has been invented by well-paid public relations firms, and in the long run it cannot stand up to scrutiny.

 
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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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