EPA Sitting On Ethanol Decision

EPA has put off a decision on Texas’ request to temporarily lower ethanol requirements for gasoline, a change Texas Gov. Rick Perry says is needed to rein in corn prices.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said the agency needs more time to review more than 15,000 public comments and consult with other departments. The agency hopes to have a decision in early August.

An energy bill passed in December required 9 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended into gasoline from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 of next year. Perry asked EPA in April to drop the Renewable Fuels Standard requirement to 4.5 billion gallons because the demand for ethanol is raising corn prices for livestock producers.

"We still believe the solution to the unintended consequence of this federal RFS mandate is simple: a one-year, 50 percent waiver," says a written statement from Perry. "The RFS waiver is an essential step toward decreasing the devastating statewide, nationa, and international impact of skyrocketing feed and food costs."

Circumstances, though, have changed since Perry made the request, says David Gibson, executive director of the Texas Corn Producer, an industry group opposed to the waiver. In the past three weeks the bushel price for corn on the Chicago Board of Trade futures market has dropped by more than 25 percent, he says. Gibson also cites a USDA report from early July that showed that planted acres increased by more than a million acres over the previous month, despite the many flooded Midwestern fields.

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