The deadline for public comments on petitions seeking a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) expired last night on October 11, 2012. The Governors of Arkansas and North Carolina had submitted separate requests, in letters dated August 13, 2012 and August 14, 2012,  asking for a waiver of RFS volume requirements. Under Section 211(o)(7)(A) of the Clean Air Act, the Administrator of the EPA is permitted to waive national volume requirements of the RFS in whole or in part if implementation of those requirements would severely harm the economy or environment of a state, a region, or the United States, or if the Administrator determines there is an inadequate domestic supply of renewable fuel. Such a waiver may either be triggered through petition by one or more States, a party subject to RFS program requirements, or at the Administrator’s own motion. If a waiver is granted, it can last no longer than one year, but may be renewed by the Administrator after consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Energy.

Following receipt of the petitions, the EPA requested public comment, with a deadline of September 26, 2012, subsequently extended to October 11, 2012. In doing so, the EPA encouraged commentators to review the analytical approach it adopted in its 2008 denial of an RFS waiver request (PDF file) by the Governor of Texas. That analysis evaluated the impact of a waiver of the volume standard by comparing the circumstances with and without a waiver, to identify the impact associated with implementation of the RFS program in the relevant time period. Nearly 30,000 public comments were submitted, including by several Governors, industry groups and members of Congress.

According to Section 211(o) of the CAA, the EPA Administrator must approve or deny a petition for a waiver of RFS volume requirements within 90 days after the petition is received. We will report on the Administrator’s ruling and its significance as soon as it becomes available.

EPA Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0632