Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | August 11, 2008

Lawyer Sanders says U.S. EPA rejects Texas request to lower Renewable Fuels Standard.

Following extensive analysis, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson denied a request submitted by 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.

 Current law authorizes U.S. 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. 

While we would like to believe that Stephen Johnson’s decision was based on sound scientific reasoning and analysis, we find it far more likely that his decision is based on the politics of an upcoming election was the motivating factor behind the decision.  In short, the Republican Party needs votes from the 18 states raising corn for ethanol and he wasn’t going to change course on the eve of November’s vote.



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