The EPA argues “that while the [RFS] statute does not define the term ‘severely harm,’ the straightforward meaning of this phrase indicates that Congress set a high threshold for issuance of a waiver.” In making this argument the EPA examines another statute where “ozone nonattainment areas are classified according to their degree of impairment, along a continuum of marginal, moderate, serious, severe or extreme ozone nonattainment areas. Thus…‘severe’ indicates a level of harm that is greater than marginal, moderate, or serious, though less than extreme.” As a result the EPA adopts the words “severely harm” to indicate “a point quite far along a continuum of harm.”
In analyzing a decision of an agency like the EPA, it is important to remember that they must build the case for their decision brick by brick. Some of those bricks describe the current processes used by the refineries while others focus on timeframes and words like “would” and “severely harm.”
Next week we will examine the economic model that the EPA used in their technical analysis of what would happen with and without the mandate.
Source: Daryll E. Ray and Harwood D. Schaffer, Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee