The National Corn Growers Association hailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision today to deny a request to reduce the renewable fuels standard as growers prepare for the second-largest corn harvest in history and consumers clamor for solutions to high gasoline prices.

“We’re very grateful but not surprised by the EPA’s decision, given the fact that projections are calling for another bountiful harvest,” says NCGA President Ron Litterer, a corn grower in Iowa. “We hope that those who have been critical of corn ethanol because of its perceived connection to higher retail food prices will work with us to help achieve a diversified and comprehensive solution to high energy prices and our reliance on foreign oil.”

Based on reams of scientific, economic and industry data put before the agency, the EPA’s decision turned down a request by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to cut the renewable fuels standard in half for one year. Gov. Perry had cited ethanol’s effect on feed and food prices, despite a study by Texas A&M researchers that the requested waiver would have little impact.

Recently, the Texas A&M study was validated by economists at Purdue University , who tied most of the recent spike in corn prices to higher oil prices, which had in turn caused the demand for ethanol and corn to jump.

“The higher energy costs, the higher everything else costs,” Litterer says. “Corn ethanol helps provide energy independence and keep energy prices down. It’s part of the solution to the real problem.”