E.P.A. delays ruling on Texas R.F.S. waiver request

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency said it would not complete its final decision on a state of Texas request for a waiver from the Renewable Fuels Standard within the set 90-day review period, which ends July 24.

"Additional time is needed to allow staff to adequately respond to the public comments and develop a decision document that explains the technical, economic and legal rationale of our decision," E.P.A. administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. "I am confident that I will be able to make a final determination on the Texas waiver request in early August.

"The process remains fair and open and no agreements have been made with any party in regard to the substance and timing of the decision on the waiver request."

More than 15,000 comments were received during the public comment period "and a number of these comments raised substantive issues and included significant economic analysis," Mr. Johnson said. "I believe it is very important to take sufficient time to review and understand these comments in order to make an informed decision."

The E.P.A. is required to consult with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture in considering the waiver request "and has begun these consultations," Mr. Johnson said.

In an April 25 letter to the agency the state of Texas requested the E.P.A. reduce the 9-billion-gallon 2008 national R.F.S. mandate by 50% for ethanol derived from grain, citing "adverse economic impact due to higher corn prices in Texas."

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the E.P.A. is enabled to grant a full or partial waiver if it is determined the R.F.S. "would severely harm the economy or environment of a state, region or the entire country, or if E.P.A. determines that there is inadequate domestic supply of renewable fuel," the E.P.A. said.

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