Biofuel group intensifies attacks against Big Oil

Source: By Zack Colman,The Hi • Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The corn-ethanol group Growth Energy is taking aim at the oil industry in a new multimillion dollar national TV advertising campaign, the group announced Monday.

The push portrays the oil industry as using its clout to prevent biofuels from entering the marketplace. It’s the latest in a series of escalating attacks between biofuel and oil industry trade groups.

“While Big Oil may be one of the largest and well-funded industries on the planet – they are not entitled to use their influence to control Congress to maintain unbridled control over the transportation fuels marketplace,” Growth Energy said in a statement.

The advertising effort will last several weeks, Growth Energy spokesman Michael Lewan told The Hill. It will broadcast nationally on FOX, CNN, MSNBC and RFD-TV, as well as in some local markets.

It’s another example of the growing animosity between the biofuel and oil industries.

At issue is the federal biofuel-blending law known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. The House is looking into overhauling the law, which requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels into conventional gasoline.

Congress created the law in 2005 and expanded it two years later, giving birth to a domestic biofuels industry that supporters say has energized rural economies, delivered cleaner fuel and enhanced energy security.

But its detractors say the law, which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, needs fixing.

The blitz comes after Fuels America, a coalition of biofuel groups, announced a major campaign to last through the end of the year.

That endeavor followed a new initiative from the American Petroleum Institute (API), which wants Congress to repeal the federal biofuel-blending law.

The API and other opponents worry refiners are approaching a “blend wall” in which they’ll need to churn out gasoline with higher ethanol concentrations. They say that could damage car engines — though the EPA has said it won’t for cars made since 2001 — and that gas stations can’t afford to install pumps to carry that kind of gasoline.

On top of that, the law’s foes say that next generation biofuels that Congress hoped the law would foster have been slow to come online.

Biofuel groups, however, say those technologies are starting to hit commercial production levels. Changing the biofuel-blending law could jeopardize investment in such fuels, the law’s boosters contend.