Free-market group launches ad assault on RFS 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The American Energy Alliance today launched a campaign aimed at repealing the federal renewable fuel standard, just days after U.S. EPA rolled out a proposal to set biofuel blending targets through the program.

The first phase of the campaign will feature print and online ads inside the Beltway and online ads in Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas — states that AEA believes are open to its arguments, spokesman Chris Warren said.

AEA is part of a strange-bedfellow coalition raising concerns with the RFS, which Congress passed in 2007 as a means of promoting energy independence and reducing the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas footprint.

AEA argues that the policy, which mandates that refiners blend conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum fuel, raises fuel prices. It also says EPA has mismanaged the program.

“We’re sending a clear message to Congress that the only way to fully fix the problem they created is to fully repeal the renewable fuel standard,” AEA President Thomas Pyle, a former Koch Industries lobbyist, said in a statement today.

The alliance, which is the advocacy arm of the Institute for Energy Research, called the campaign the first phase in a “sustained initiative” to convince policymakers to eliminate the RFS.

One of the main aims of the campaign is also to push back against legislation that would reform the program and not completely repeal it, Warren said. Lawmakers have introduced several reform bills this Congress, including legislation to eliminate the corn ethanol portion of the program.

“We’re trying to build up a case for repeal and silence all of the noise around these partial reforms and half measures,” Warren said.

Most biofuel trade groups have urged Congress to neither reform nor repeal the renewable fuel standard, arguing that it has boosted rural economies and spurred the development of low-carbon fuels.

The campaign comes as EPA is working toward a Nov. 30 deadline to finalize its proposed blending targets for ethanol and advanced biofuels for 2014 through 2016. In the rule released Friday, EPA proposed to boost year-by-year biofuel use but reduced the annual mandates compared to the targets that Congress anticipated when it wrote the federal biofuels program into law (Greenwire, May 29).