WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced that it would not grant a waiver request from Texas to relax the Renewable Fuels Standard, saying the mandate had not cause severe harm to the environment or economy.

“After reviewing the facts, it was clear this request did not meet the criteria in the law,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “The RFS remains an important tool in our ongoing efforts to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil, in aggressive yet practical ways.”

The agency said that it recognized that high commodity prices were having an impact, but also said that analysis had shown that the mandate was not causing severe economic harm during the time period specified by Texas.

The meat industry leaders disagreed with the decision, saying harm has already occurred.

“Our industry has suffered a record of nearly $1.5 billion in cattle feeding losses between January and June of 2008, which we believe constitutes the severe economic impact necessary to prompt a waiver from the RFS mandate,” said Andy Groseta, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“All of us at Butterball are extremely disappointed in today’s EPA ruling to maintain the ethanol production mandates. Increased corn prices have already added $200 million to our operating costs. This, in turn, has forced our company to restructure operations and raise the prices of our products,” said Keith Shoemaker, CEO of Butterball LLC.

Both the NCBA and Butterball were involved with Food Before Fuel, a coalition that formed to support Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his request to have the mandate reduced. The governor had filed the waiver request in June.

The EPA said that the required total volume of renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, mandated by law to be blended into the fuel supply will remain at 9 billion gallons in 2008 and 11.1 billion gallons in 2009.