U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson has denied a request submitted by the State of Texas to reduce the nationwide renewable fuels standard. The decision was announced Thursday. As a result, the required total volume of ethanol and biodiesel will remain at 9 billion gallons for 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons for 2009.

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

Current law authorizes 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. RFS nationwide volume mandates were increased in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law in December 2007.

“We are deeply disappointed with EPA’s decision,” said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “Pork producers need more time to adjust to the volatility of the grain markets and to the government’s ethanol mandate, which this year is requiring the ethanol industry to use about one-third of the total U.S. corn crop.

NPPC in June urged EPA to grant Texas a waiver of the RFS. Without the waiver, NPPC pointed out in comments to the agency, the Texas pork industry, which generates more than 3,100 jobs and nearly $200 million in gross state income, could be adversely affected.

“The RFS has helped create one of the most volatile economic situations ever to hit pork producers,” said Black. “We need relief, and the RFS waiver was one way the government could have provided it. Now, we expect to see increasing pressure on the domestic pork industry, with the hog herd continuing to be reduced, producers going out of business, jobs being lost and retail pork prices rising.”

Others were pleased with the EPA decision. Minnesota DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, said he supports the EPA's decision not to reduce the federal ethanol mandate.  "The reality is that this has to be done if we're going to finally rid ourselves of foreign oil. I'm not saying that ethanol is the only solution, but it is part of the solution and a big part of the solution, I think," Peterson said.

For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels

Source: EPA, ThePigSite.com