Web Date: November 20, 2012
Ethanol Stays In The Mix
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Nov. 16 that it would not waive a requirement that 13.2 billion gal of corn-based ethanol be added to gasoline this year and parts of 2013. Seeking the waiver to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were some nine governors, 26 senators, and 150 members of the House of Representatives as well as many livestock, poultry, and other farmers who depend on corn for animal food.
Those seeking the waiver complain about the rising price of corn, and see ethanol, which draws about 45% of the U.S. corn crop, as the problem. Because of a drought in the U.S. this past summer, corn yields have plummeted to a 17-year low, according to USDA. The corn harvest is 13% below last year’s and, over the past three years, the price of corn has nearly doubled (C&EN, Oct. 29, page 18).
EPA received more than 2,400 comments from a variety of stakeholders when making its decision.
To gain a waiver, EPA maintains that, under the law, petitioners must show “severe economic harm.”In this case, EPA says that threshold was not met.
“We recognize that this year’s drought has created hardship in some sectors of the economy, particularly for livestock producers,” says Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. “But our extensive analysis makes clear that congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met,” and that waiving the RFS will have little, if any, economic impact.
Several economic analyses of the agricultural sector show that, on average, waiving the mandate would only reduce corn prices by approximately 1%, EPA says. Other analyses show that waiving the mandate would not impact household energy costs, the agency adds.
This year marks the second time the agency has considered an RFS waiver. In 2008, the State of Texas sought a waiver, but, in that case as well, EPA concluded that meeting the standard did not impose severe harm.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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