Dueling forces blanket Hill to press case on RFS

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A lobbying fight over ethanol mandates is heating up again this week, with dueling events by the American Coalition for Ethanol and the American Petroleum Institute, amid little sign of action in Congress.

The ethanol coalition, representing farmers, power cooperatives and companies such as Monsanto Co., brought about 65 members to Washington, D.C., for a one-day fly-in to press Congress to preserve the renewable fuel standard, organizers said yesterday.

“Congress got the RFS right. We don’t want Congress to tinker with it,” said Brian Jennings, the coalition’s executive vice president.

On the other side of the debate, API planned to deliver packets of anti-RFS information to the platform committees of the national Democratic and Republican parties today, said an API spokesman, Carlton Carroll.

Although election-year politics and legal challenges to the RFS by API and other groups suggest Congress isn’t about to take bold action, ethanol advocates want to keep up with the messaging battle at the Capitol, Jennings said.

API has maintained a steady drumbeat of news releases and similar messages in recent weeks, pointing to potential damage to certain types of engines from high-ethanol fuels and to what it says is sagging public support for fuel blend mandates.

“We’re not opposed to ethanol,” said Carroll, who said API’s members would probably use the same amount of ethanol if no mandate existed.

While API looks to Congress to repeal or revamp the RFS, ACE pushes U.S. EPA to expand the use of E15 fuel, a higher-ethanol mix that’s already allowed in cars made after 2001 and in light-duty trucks but can’t be sold everywhere in summer.

The coalition supports legislation that would open the way to summer sales of fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) is the Senate sponsor, and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) sponsored the House bill.

The coalition plans a first-ever briefing session for congressional staff members tomorrow, Jennings said.