Cooper said a waiver could “send a chilling signal” to advanced biofuel investors, slow commercial roll-out of E-15 and would be a disincentive to farmers to plant corn in 2013. “There are a lot of investors on the sidelines today who are waiting and watching to see what EPA is going to do with the RFS, and if it will cave in to the pressure.”

In its waiver request to EPA, the NPPC said research from professor Bruce Babcock at Iowa State University indicated that a waiver of the RFS in 2011 would have reduced the price of a bushel of corn by $1.48.

Also citing Babcock’s research, Cooper said a waiver of the mandate “would have little impact on corn price above and beyond what is already coming from these flexibilities in the standard.”

Cooper said Babcock’s research indicates that a complete waiver would result in a 4.5 percent decrease in corn prices, or a 28-cent per bushel reduction. “That’s not the type of relief that the livestock folks are seeking, nor the type of impact they claim will happen,” Cooper said.

Cooper acknowledges that another low corn production year could remove the current cushion of excess RINs and heavy ethanol stocks. “We can get through 2013 and meet the RFS of 13.8 billion gallons without much of a problem. We can produce as much as 11.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2013 and still meet the requirements.

“If we do encounter a situation that would put strain on the corn and ethanol markets (in the next production year), we would need to sit down with EPA and other stakeholders and figure out the best course forward. But assuming this is a one year deal, we have the flexibility to get through.”

erobinson@farmpress.com