Ads promote strong RFS mandates ahead of Paris talks

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015

Biofuels supporters are launching a new TV and digital ad campaign in favor of more robust renewable fuel mandates for refiners in the lead-up to the U.N. international climate change negotiations in Paris.

U.S. EPA is poised to release final targets for ethanol and advanced biofuels for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by a Nov. 30 court-ordered deadline.

The 30-second TV ad attempts to paint EPA’s choice on the final standards as a choice between the oil industry’s “lies” about climate change and the Obama administration’s own science and policy advisers.

The seven-figure campaign is sponsored by Fuels America, a coalition of trade organizations formed to rally support around the renewable fuel standard, and will launch tomorrow in the Washington, D.C., market.

Earlier this year, EPA said it would increase year-by-year biofuel mandates for refiners under the renewable fuel standard program but proposed to lower the requirements compared with the annual levels that Congress wrote into the 2007 energy bill.

Biofuel and farm groups have mobilized their supporters in the heartland in opposition to the proposal, calling for EPA to set more robust targets. They say that EPA’s reasoning for lowering the targets — there’s a blend wall that prevents more ethanol from entering the fuels system — goes against congressional intent.

The new ad is on the heels of a campaign by the American Petroleum Institute to persuade EPA to set even lower targets for refiners (Greenwire, Oct. 28).

It shows President Obama with an angel and a devil on either shoulder. The angel represents administration officials and scientists who have said that the RFS helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The ad quotes EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who in September called the RFS a “vital” tool for addressing climate change and part of the Obama administration’s climate agenda (E&ENews PM, Sept. 15).

In the ad, the devil represents the oil industry.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s industrial and environmental section, said that the ad is timed to precede the climate talks in Paris.

The international negotiations kick off the same day that EPA is required to choose final biofuel standards.

Erickson criticized the administration for touting carbon dioxide reductions tied to the Clean Power Plan while proposing reductions in biofuel targets. A recent analysis by BIO found that the RFS has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced U.S. transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions by 589.33 million metric tons over the last decade.

“It makes no sense to project future carbon savings for the Clean Power Plan while we’re undercutting achievable near-term accomplishments under the renewable fuel standard,” he said. “That’s a very dubious strategy for demonstrating U.S. leadership at the upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris.”