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Published April 10, 2014, 12:44 PM

McCarthy: RFS will reflect most recent data

The volumetric requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard will be different from those at the proposed levels, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said April 7.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek

WASHINGTON — The volumetric requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard will be different from those at the proposed levels, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said April 7.

In a speech to the North American Agricultural Journalists, McCarthy said she has listened to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s point that gasoline consumption has risen since EPA wrote the proposed rule.

She acknowledged that the amount of gasoline demand had an impact on the numbers in the proposed rule, and that current numbers “will be reflected in the final rule.”

“We’ll definitely be using the most up-to-date data, and it will make a difference,” McCarthy said.

Although she did not say the volumetric requirements would be higher, it appears they would be because the gasoline consumption has gone up.

Numbers like the volumetric requirements often change between the proposed rule and the final rule at EPA because of new information, McCarthy said, and the agency will take 200,000 comments into consideration.

McCarthy also said she wanted to make sure farm reporters understand that the Obama administration wants “to continue to grow this industry moving forward.” She said she expects the final rule to be released in late spring or early summer.

Biofuels, McCarthy said, are a key component in the Obama administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

“One of the challenges we have is that the RFS was very aggressive” and was “developed with the idea that gasoline would continue to grow quite robustly in terms of its demand.”

But gasoline consumption, while growing again, is still down, and McCarthy said in the proposed rule, “Our overarching goal was to put RFS on a path forward that is realistic.”

Under the law that Congress wrote, volumes go up every year, and EPA “needs to make sure it was implementable.”

One reality in the RFS, McCarthy said, is the ethanol blend wall.

McCarthy appears to be the first EPA administrator to attend an ag journalists’ conference, although her predecessor, Lisa Jackson, did invite a group of ag journalists to her office.

McCarthy said she accepted the invitation because “One of the most important goals is to have a better relationship with the agriculture community.”

She noted that she has visited farms in Iowa and California and has met with farmers in Missouri, Indiana and Kansas, and also with farm workers.

US waters rule

McCarthy also defended the recent rewrite of the waters of the U.S. rule, noting that its intent is to clarify the waters that are covered by the Clean Water Act and “to provide certainty and predictability.”

She said she had worked “arm in arm” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in developing the rule.

She pointed out that current exemptions from permits for agricultural activities such as plowing and drainage “are all kept intact” and the rule includes 56 exemptive conservation practices.

“This is not a land grab,” she said. “The Clean Water Act does not regulate land use, it protects the quality of waters that are important to all of us.

“This proposal is not a final proposal,” she noted. “It is the start of another level of dialogue” with the agriculture community.

During a question-and-answer period, McCarthy fielded questions on EPA-agriculture relations.

“EPA does not have a trusting relationship with the ag community,” she said, noting it was the agency’s mission to make sure people know “we’re genuinely going to listen.”

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