E.P.A. leaves fuels mandate unchanged

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has denied a Texas request to reduce the national 9 billion gallon Renewable Fuels Standard by 50%.

"Today the E.P.A. has denied a request from the state of Texas to reduce the R.F.S.," said Stephen L. Johnson, E.P.A. administrator. "As a result, the total volume of renewable fuels will remain at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and at 11.1 billion gallons in 2009."

Texas on April 24 requested the E.P.A. suspend 50% of the R.F.S. for alternative fuels made from grain because of the impact of high grain prices on that state’s economy. The 90-day period in which the E.P.A. was to have ruled ended July 24 but the agency said it needed additional time "to adequately respond to the public comments and develop a decision document that explains the technical, economic and legal rationale of our decision." The E.P.A. said it received more than 15,000 submissions in the 30-day comment period.

The agency’s review showed that the R.F.S. was not causing severe economic harm, one of the requirements necessary to waive the mandate, Mr. Johnson said. The agency reviewed criteria for the 2008-09 time period as stated in the Texas request, he said.

The E.P.A. said it determined on average waiving the mandate would reduce corn prices by only 7c a bu, although some study subsets put the reduction as high as 30c a bu. Those numbers did not meet the threshold for waiving the R.F.S., Mr. Johnson said.

The E.P.A. said it consulted with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy as required and used supply and use data from the July 11 U.S.D.A. World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. It also used U.S.D.A. generated corn prices through July 11.

Mr. Johnson said the E.P.A. was further assessing the higher R.F.S. for later years (after 2009) but that the waiver criteria remained the same.

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