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EPA call for comments on ethanol waiver worries Grassley

Agriculture.com Staff 05/20/2008 @ 4:12pm

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked for comments on a request from Texas Governor Rick Perry's request for a waiver from the Renewablle Fuels Standard. That worries one of the staunchest defenders of the ethanol industry, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

"I think it's a step that would give me some pause because it's a [sign] that they might be taking seriously something that's idiotic," Grassley told reporters Tuesday.

"They're going one step further than they should, considering the economics and science against corn for ethanol having an impact on the price of food worldwide or even in the United States. But then maybe it's one way of getting these facts out and exposing the illegitimacy of the request in the first place," Grassley said.

Click here to see more information from EPA on how to comment on the request from Texas.

Grassley also said he opposes legislation introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison ((R-TX) that would role back the renewable fuels standard at this year's level of 9 billion gallons

"As far I'm concerned, it's carrying water for big oil," Grassley said "We're back to fighting big oil as we have for 30 years," he said. He added he thought the fight was over in 2004 when oil companies seemed to agree to a compromise to switch from clean air standards requiring oxygen boosting ethanol in fuels sold in certain metropolitan areas to a new national standard for biofuels use.

Grassley said he thought the bill would be easily defeated in the Senate.

Yesterday the USDA also entered the battle over ethanol and food prices with a press briefing by Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and other top USDA officials.

"We are very concerned about the impact on higher prices for everyday food, particularly at a time when Americans are also facing a rising cost of gasoline. In fact, one of the points we want to make today is that these two trends are very closely linked. Higher oil prices affect much more than just the cost of driving; they are actually one of the major factors behind higher food costs," Schafer said.

Click here to read the full transcript of Monday's USDA briefing.

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked for comments on a request from Texas Governor Rick Perry's request for a waiver from the Renewablle Fuels Standard. That worries one of the staunchest defenders of the ethanol industry, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

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