No big surprise here, and I have been advising people that there was very little chance that the EPA would grant the waiver, but they have officially denied the ethanol waiver request from the state of Texas:
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, during a conference call with reporters, said the agency’s assessment looked at the livestock issue and found feed prices have increased because of biofuel production. “However, is that the result of the (Renewable Fuels Standard) mandate? Our conclusion is no,” Johnson said. “And second, are those price increases meeting the statutory requirement of severe harm to the economy? And our conclusion is no.”
Environmental groups, concerned about how biofuels affect climate, water quality and biodiversity, also supported the waiver. Sandra Schubert, spokeswoman for the Environmental Working Group, said the denial is shortsighted and that the country should be focused on viable clean energy solutions. “Instead, the misguided corn ethanol mandate is forcing farmers to plow up marginal land and wildlife habitat, while increasing global warming and dumping toxic fertilizers and pesticides into our precious water sources,” she said in a statement.
On Capitol Hill, the decision drew mixed reaction. Members of the Texas congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has filed legislation that would freeze future ethanol production at this year’s level, criticized the agency’s decision.
“I am disappointed that the EPA missed this opportunity to provide relief for American consumers who are dealing with skyrocketing food prices due to the unintended consequences of the continued escalation of the ethanol mandate,” Hutchison said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also a Republican, called the decision a “victory,” saying it will allow farmers to “continue to plan for and meet the fuel and food needs of the future.”
Given the Bush administration’s infatuation with ethanol, I thought the chances of the waiver being granted were very slim.