More than One-Third of US Representatives Urge EPA to Waive Ethanol Mandate; Poultry Industry Hails Action

August 2, 2012

Washington, D.C. – As the worst drought  in a half century continues, a bipartisan group of 156 members of Congress is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act immediately to reduce the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate to account for the severe anticipated corn shortage.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) addresses the press

Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Steve Womack (R-AR) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC) are spearheading the plea to the EPA because “another short corn crop would be devastating to the animal agriculture industry, food manufacturers, foodservice providers and consumers,” according to the letter.

The letter urged prompt action by the EPA to help ease short corn supply concerns that would save jobs across many U.S. industries and keep families fed.  “We strongly urge you to exercise your authority and take the necessary steps to protect American consumers and the economy,” the representatives wrote.

When Congress enacted the expanded RFS in 2007, certain “safety valves” were put in place.   One provision allows the administrator of the EPA to reduce the required volume of renewable fuel in any year based on severe harm to the economy or environment of a state, a region or the United States.  The congressional letter contends that the worst drought since the Eisenhower administration calls for exactly the kind of flexibility that Congress envisioned.

Today’s congressional action comes on the heels of an official petition to waive the RFS delivered to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson earlier this week by poultry and livestock producers.  The RFS has “directly affected the supply and cost of feed in major agricultural sectors of this country, causing the type of economic harm that justifies issuance of an RFS waiver,” said the coalition in its petition.

The poultry industry welcomed today’s action.

“We appreciate that these Representatives has fully grasped the scope of this crisis,” said National Turkey Federation, President Joel Brandenberger. “Anything other than immediate action would be a blatant disregard for the petition process of the RFS.  The emergency is happening now, today.  Our turkey farmers need relief and we are happy to have this much bipartisan support.”

“I commend Representatives Goodlatte, Womack and McIntyre for their leadership on this issue,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown.  “I urge EPA AdministratorJackson to heed the call of more than one-third of U.S. representatives to help alleviate tight corn supplies and rising prices in the face of the worst drought in more than half a century. Chicken companies in particular are increasingly being severely impacted by the growing diversion of corn into our gas tanks because of government mandated ethanol programs.   The chicken industry is urging EPA to implement the law that is on the books and promptly grant a full or partial waiver of the RFS.  How bad does it have to get before the administration acts?”

A copy of the letter is available by clicking here.

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