(August 22, 2012) – Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has made a formal petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend the federal ethanol mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as a response to the severe drought which is affecting major grain-producing areas of the Southern and Midwestern US.
Under the ethanol mandates, ethanol fuel made from corn is blended with gasoline to encourage the development of domestic energy sources. The current policy requires refiners to blend 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline supplies during 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons next year. As a result, about 40% of the total corn production in the United States will be used to produce ethanol, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Farmers complain that this policy wrongly diverts a large share of the feed corn they need for their livestock and drives up corn prices that have already inflated by the unusually long dry season. In fact, Governor Deal's petition to the EPA states that poultry farmers in Georgia are collectively spending about $1.4 million more in feed costs each day due to combined effects of the drought and the ethanol rules.
According to the Governor, these higher costs are causing severe economic harm and threaten to put livestock producers in Georgia out of business.
Georgia is the fifth state to join in the request for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard, joining Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Arkansas. Several U.S. Senators and Representatives as well as several livestock producers also have signed letters indicating their support of an RFS waiver.
The EPA announced on August 20, 2012 that it would consider the petitions that it has received and has begun collecting public comments on these waiver requests as a first step in the review process. The comments will be used to judge what effects the current mandate will have on the US economy if it is not adjusted. Comments will be collected for 30 days, and the EPA will evaluate them and reach a decision within 90 days.
The EPA's request for public comments regarding the waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard is available at http://www.epa.gov/
In addition to the EPA's official site, a number of other websites are helping to spread awareness about the need for adjustments in the Renewable Fuel Standard in the wake of the ongoing US drought. Among these is http://www.facebook.com/
"We feel it is very important to get the news out about how crucial the ethanol mandate waiver would be for Georgia livestock farmers," notes page administrator S.S. Ober-Lehn. "And Facebook's international appeal makes the Georgia Proud to Call It Home fanpage a natural place for anyone who is concerned about the rising costs of corn and its effects on Georgia's agriculture and economy to come together to discuss this serious situation and help spread awareness about it."