WASHINGTON - Following pressure from four governors and more than 150 lawmakers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said earlier this week that it is considering whether to suspend the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and is requesting public feedback, Congressional Quarterly reports. The agency€™s 30-day comment period will begin when the notice is published in the Federal Register.
"This notice is in keeping with EPA's commitment to an open and transparent process to evaluate requests the agency receives under the Clean Air Act, and does not indicate any predisposition to a specific decision," said EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson.
Last week, governors from North Carolina and Arkansas filed formal waivers with the EPA, urging it to temporarily suspend the U.S. quota on ethanol made from corn because of this summer€™s drought, which has driven corn prices higher, impacting livestock producers who rely on corn for feed.
Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte said the EPA action is overdue. "The current drought and diminishing corn crop will devastate our economy if the RFS is not waived. I urge livestock producers, businesses small and large, and others impacted by the RFS mandate to submit their comments to the EPA," he said in a statement.
The RFS requires 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be produced from corn this year. The EPA is seeking input on whether RFS would damage the economies of Arkansas, North Carolina, or any other region in the U.S., and what impact a waiver would have on ethanol demand and corn prices. It is also asking, should it issue a waiver, how much the mandate should be eased.
Ethanol industry groups maintain the mandate offers flexibility for fuel blenders who must comply with the RFS, including the option to purchase bankable credits if they cannot buy enough ethanol to meet requirements.