The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request from the state of Texas to reduce the nationwide Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
As a result, the required total volume of renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, mandated by law to be blended into the fuel supply will remain at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009.
"After reviewing the facts, it was clear this request did not meet the criteria in the law," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "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."
Current law authorizes EPA to waive the national RFS if the agency determines that the mandated biofuel volumes would cause "severe harm" to the economy or the environment. The agency recognizes that high commodity prices are having economic impacts, but EPA's extensive analysis of Texas' request found no compelling evidence that the RFS mandate is causing severe economic harm during the time period specified by Texas.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the RFS program - and included amendments to the Clean Air Act to set strict criteria for RFS-related waivers. RFS nationwide volume mandates were increased in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law in December 2007.
EPA conducted detailed analysis, consulted closely with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and carefully considered more than 15,000 public comments in response to the Texas request.
This is the first RFS-related waiver request.
The National Biodiesel Board praised the decision. "We appreciate the EPA taking a careful approach to the waiver request and agree with their determination that it should be denied," said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. "It is important to note that all renewable fuels qualify for the current RFS. In fact, if the RFS is waived or cut in half in 2008, then the growth of all biofuels, including 'advanced biofuels' such as biodiesel, would be severely hindered.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers also supported the decision, saying such a waiver would do great harm to the renewable fuels industry, rural development, the environment and the American driver, while not alleviating the concerns of the state of Texas.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels