Environmental Protection Agency denies ethanol waiver requests

US corn growers stand behind decision, coalition of poultry and livestock farmers express disappointment

The Environmental Protection Agency has denied requests from some U.S. state governors and associations for a waiver of the current production requirements for corn-based ethanol, according to reports.

Sources that requested the waiver said the 2012 U.S. drought made the Renewable Fuel Standard untenable. “The worst drought in half a century has made a bad situation worse,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown in October. “Record high and extremely volatile grain prices have been the norm since the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard and have greatly impacted our cost of production, severely harming our economic well-being.”

The National Corn Growers Association has said that it supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny the Renewable Fuel Standard waiver request. “We believe Administrator [Lisa P.] Jackson appropriately recognized petitioners did not properly prove severe nationwide economic harm had occurred thereby creating no justification for a waiver of the RFS,” said association President Pam Johnson. “The ethanol industry plays a pivotal role in job creation throughout the country, supporting over 400,000 jobs nationwide. This includes many in ethanol plants in rural America. The RFS advances the use of domestically produced renewable fuels, encourages new technologies and enhances U.S. energy independence.”

A coalition of livestock, poultry and dairy organizations, however, expressed disappointment with the decision. “We are extremely frustrated and discouraged that the EPA chose to ignore the clear economic argument from tens of thousands of family farmers and livestock and poultry producers that the food-to-fuel policy is causing and will cause severe harm to regions in which those farmers and producers operate,” said the coalition. “How many more jobs and family farms have to be lost before we change this misguided policy and create a level playing field on the free market for the end users of corn? It is now abundantly clear that this law is broken, and we will explore remedies to fix it.”

The American Feed Industry Association has also called for further action in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of the waiver. “AFIA will call on Congress and the Administration to not let this issue be ignored,” said President and CEO Joel G. Newman. “Congress must pass and implement an RFS temporary trigger mechanism based on the USDA-calculated corn stocks-to-use ratio. This solution is recommended in H.R. 3097, the Renewable Fuel Standard Flexibility Act, introduced by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R, Va.) and Jim Costa (D, Calif.) with bipartisan support from more than 30 members of the House.”