Group aims to make conservative case for RFS

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 1, 2015

Former Missouri GOP Sen. Jim Talent’s new advocacy group aims to rally conservatives around the renewable fuel standard.

The ex-senator formally launched Americans for Energy Security and Innovation yesterday with the backing of biofuel producers and investors around the country.

Talent said the group will make a market-based case for the standard, which Congress passed in 2007 to increase the amount of biofuels used in the United States. He said the fuels market is currently not operating as a free market because of OPEC’s role in setting global oil prices.

“We want to emphasize that the RFS is not an interference with the market, but a path to the market,” Talent told reporters on a conference call.

The group will aim to act as an informational campaign and “mobilize” grass-roots support for the RFS, Talent said. Americans for Energy Security and Innovation will coordinate with other existing biofuel organizations but will differentiate itself with a market-based conservative message.

“We wanted to have an independent platform so we could engage in our own efforts and get out messages that were important and maybe weren’t getting out with other groups,” he said.

Americans for Energy Security and Innovation plans to have a robust social media presence and may do advertising, Talent said.

In rolling out the new group, Talent also slammed the Obama administration for its proposal earlier this year to scale back biofuel requirements in 2014, 2015 and 2016 compared with the levels Congress wrote into the 2007 statute.

He suggested that the proposal was hypocritical in light of the upcoming international climate negotiations in Paris, where the United States will push for commitments to reduce greenhouse gases from other nations.

Supporters of biofuels say plant-based fuels are key to reducing the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, though environmentalists question the benefits of corn ethanol.

“Why are they [the Obama administration] going to be proposing things and working for things that are aspirational that require cooperation from foreign countries that are going to be costing a lot of money,” Talent asked, “and backing away from policies that reduce greenhouse gases today?”

Separately, the Wisconsin Biofuels Association yesterday launched a television, radio and print ad campaign that also hits President Obama for the renewable fuel standard proposal. The ads charge that Obama broke campaign promises to support the biofuels policy.

EPA’s final rule is due by Nov. 30 under a settlement agreement with oil industry groups.