Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending its public comment period on requests to waive the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) requirements due to this summer's record drought. The new deadline to submit comments is October 11.
Delmarva's and America's poultry and agriculture industries are still experiencing the negative effects of high corn and other crops' prices brought about by this year's extreme drought. Last month, Sen. Carper joined a bipartisan group of 25 lawmakers led by Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in writing to Environmental Protection Agency Administration Lisa Jackson urging her to use the agency's authority to adjust the corn-based ethanol mandate of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). For 2012, the RFS program requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply. Under the current RFS program, the EPA Administrator has the authority to waive all or portions of the RFS program in instances of economic or environmental hardship. An adjustment to the mandate would bring much needed relief to farmers, businesses, and all consumers by helping to ease corn shortages and reduce high corn and gas prices.
The EPA issued a Federal Register notice opening a 30-day public comment period on the Senators', as well as other state officials', requests to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard requirements. The comment period was originally scheduled to end on September 26, but the EPA has extended it to October 11 to give the public additional time to comment. This notice is in keeping with EPA's commitment to an open and transparent process to evaluate requests the agency receives under the Clean Air Act, and does not indicate any predisposition to a specific decision. The statute provides the Agency with 90 days in which to make a decision.
"This year's record drought has wreaked havoc on many of Delaware's farmers and businesses," said Sen. Carper. "Over the summer, I visited a farm in Sussex County and saw firsthand the devastating damage this drought has caused for Delaware's corn and soybean growers. The USDA's report on expected yields for corn and other crops for this year is disappointing to say the least, and underscores the need for additional measures from the Administration to help provide relief to our farmers and growers. One of the tools available to the Administration is the ability of the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adjust the fuel requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard program in cases of economic or environmental hardship. I hope the Administration will utilize this waiver authority to modify the corn-ethanol portion of the RFS program in light of the impact to American poultry and agricultural producers of high corn prices caused from this year's historic drought. I urge all farmers, businesses and consumers impacted by this year's drought to submit comments to ensure that their concerns are heard."