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EPA Denies Texas Request to Waive RFS

August 7, 2008
Today, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced the decision to deny Texas Gov. Rick Perry's request for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Johnson said in a press release: “After reviewing the facts, it was clear this request did not meet the criteria in the law. 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.”

In its formal response to the request, EPA noted several reasons for denying this request and laid out a framework for future requests.

The EPA rejected Texas' claim that the RFS was causing severe harm to the economy by raising food and feed prices. They relied on a model developed by Iowa State University that shows biofuel production is only one element -- and a small one compared to oil prices -- contributing to high food and feed prices. Further, the EPA found that granting the waiver would not lower corn prices, so it would not provide the remedy that Texas sought.

In the end, EPA affirmed that the goals of energy independence, rural growth and reduction of greenhouse gases -- which biofuels can provide -- provide economic benefits that must be weighed against any claim of economic harm contained in a future request to set aside the RFS.

Overall, the EPA did not consider two important questions that this blog has been following -- the development of advanced biofuels and the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to indirect land use.