The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it has begun weighing requests to suspend the U.S. ethanol mandate, which requires refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline, and is seeking public feedback.
The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas asked the agency last week to temporarily waive the U.S. quota on ethanol made from corn, because the worst drought in 50 years has driven corn prices higher and hurt livestock producers who depend on the grain for feed.
The EPA asked on Monday for public comment on the need for an ethanol waiver. The 30-day comment period will begin once the notice is published in the Federal Register.
“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,” agency spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said in a statement.
By law the agency has until November 13 to make a decision on the waivers, meaning EPA could act on the requests after national elections on November 6.
Aimed at reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, would require 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be made from corn this year.
The EPA is seeking input on whether the RFS would severely hurt the economies of Arkansas, North Carolina or any other part of the United States and what effect a waiver would have on ethanol demand and corn prices.
The agency is also asking, if a waiver is needed, how much should the mandate be eased and when should it apply.
The mandate should be rescinded and never applied.