How Some Media Outlets Are Helping A Trade Group Misleadingly Imply That The Advanced Biofuel Industry Opposes Renewable Fuel Standards

Source: By JEREMY HOLDEN, Media Matters • Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Houston Chronicle and Reuters are helping the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) overstate its membership and downplay its connections to the oil industry, facilitating its advocacy to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In fact, major developers of advanced biofuels continue to support the standards and are not members of the association – which is largely run by executives with deep roots in the oil industry.

Media Outlets Identify Oil-Led Trade Group As Representing “Biofuels” In Latest Attack On Renewable Fuel Standards

Houston Chronicle: Biofuels And Ethanol Lobbies “Part Ways.” A March 11 article in the Houston Chronicle headlined, “Biofuels and ethanol lobbies part ways,” reported that the Advanced Biofuels Association was “representing advanced biofuels created from algae, animal fat and non-edible plant materials.” [Houston Chronicle3/11/15]

Houston Chronicle: Advanced Biofuels Association “Provides Ammunition To Oil Industry Foes Of The Federal Renewable Fuel Standard.” The Houston Chronicle reported that the Advanced Biofuels Association’s decision to “back a legislative overhaul of the federal renewable fuel standard” gave “ammunition to oil industry foes of the renewable fuel standard.” [Houston Chronicle3/11/15]

Reuters: Move Exemplifies A “Growing Rift Between Corn-Based Ethanol Producers” And “The Rest Of The Renewable Fuels Industry.” Reuters reported on March 11 that the Advanced Biofuels Assocation’s move to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard “underscores a growing rift between corn-based ethanol producers, which represent the bulk of U.S. biofuels production, and the rest of the renewable fuels industry.” [Reuters, 3/11/15]

But Major Advanced Biofuel Companies Support The RFS

Advanced Ethanol Council Director Criticized ABFA’s Move. The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) — which is comprised of advanced biofuels companies — has expressed repeated support for the RFS. AEC president Brooke Coleman recently criticized ABFA’s move to “open up the RFS,” as reported in Politico’s Morning Energy. Coleman reportedly said: “Not a single first mover in the commercial deployment of cellulosic ethanol supports the effort to open up the RFS or somehow break with the coalition that got the policy done in the first place and continues to defend it. [Renewable Fuels Association, 12/12/13; Politico’s Morning Energy, 3/12/15]

POET-DSM Responds To ABFA Move: “Congress Should Stand Behind” RFS. According to the Des Moines Register, advanced ethanol producer POET-DSM issued a statement reiterating its support for the Renewable Fuel Standard:

“POET-DSM invested hundreds of millions of dollars into bringing cellulosic ethanol technology to commercial scale based on the promise of the Renewable Fuel Standard as originally written into law. Congress should stand behind that policy so that investment in clean, domestic energy can continue here in the U.S,” said Dan Cummings, president of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels. [Des Moines Register3/11/15]

Quad County Corn Processors: Advanced Ethanol Industry Has “Grown By Leaps And Bounds” Because Of RFS. The CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, which has advanced ethanol operations, wrote in a Des Moines Register editorial that the RFS “gave [them] a base on which to build [their] new cellulosic ethanol technology”:

That industry has grown by leaps and bounds in large part because Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard requiring motor vehicle fuel to include renewable elements such as ethanol. The Renewable Fuel Standard developed the infrastructure and industrial process to generate conventional ethanol, which gave us a base on which to build our new cellulosic ethanol technology. [Des Moines Register9/14/14]

DuPont Called For Preservation Of RFS. In a keynote speech at the 2014 Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman called for Congress to preserve the RFS. From a DuPont press release:

“Legislative and regulatory uncertainty has a direct impact on the growth of this industry,” Kullman said. “If the EPA issues an RFS rule with increasing biofuels volumes, supporting a stable regulatory environment, our industry can thrive.”She continued, “So let me state clearly: the Renewable Fuel Standard works and Congress and the administration need to ensure its stability. This will bring a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, increased energy security, many more rural jobs and much needed environmental benefits.” [Dupont, 5/13/14]

Novozymes: “Advanced biofuels are commercializing because the Renewable Fuel Standard is working.” Novozymes, which has a cellulosic ethanol plant in North Carolina, cited the RFS as the reason for the success of the advanced biofuel industry. President Adam Monroe stated: “Advanced biofuels are commercializing because the Renewable Fuel Standard is working. With public and private investment, we are adding to America’s mix of domestic energy, reducing prices for consumers and freeing us from our dependence on oil.” [Novozymes, accessed 3/13/15]

Every Executive Member Of ABFA Is Linked To The Oil Industry

ABFA Executive Committee And Officers Comprised Of Current And Former Oil Industry Members.ABFA’s website includes biographies for its “executive committee and officers.” Each executive member listed has current or former ties to the oil industry:

  • Michael McAdams, AFBA’s president, spent over 14 years working for BP, where served as the vice president of the Eastern United States for government and public affairs as well as vice president of government affairs and the environment. [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]
  • Chairman Wayne Symmons worked for several years at Exxon. According to ABFA’s website, Symmons “spent much of his early career in various management and engineering positions at Exxon.” [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]
  • Lee Edwards worked for BP for 25 years, “including CEO of BP Solar, President of BP Pipelines, North America, Chief Information Officer for Downstream, and Vice President, BP Global Brand.” [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]
  • Neville Fernandes is currently “General Manager of Neste Oil’s US business, and President of Neste Oil US, Inc. located in Houston, Texas.” Neste Oil, a “refining and marketing company,” offers petroleum products along with other forms of biofuels. [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15; Neste Oil, accessed 3/13/15]
  • Henrik Erametsa is currently “Head of US Federal Affairs at Neste Oil.” [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]
  • John Kasbaum held “various positions at Albemarle Corporation,” which “supplies top performance catalysts, antioxidants, technologies and related services to the petroleum refining and chemical industries” according to their website. He also  “led the formation of Albemarle’s highly successful petroleum refining Hydroprocessing Alliance with Honeywell’s UOP division as Alliance Director.” [Abermarle, accessed 3/13/15; ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]
  • Alan Hiltner was previously “Vice President of Planning and Development of Braskem, the largest petrochemical company in Latin America.” He also previously held a position at “Petrobras, an integrated oil and gas company and the largest company by market capitalization in the Southern Hemisphere.” [ABFA, accessed 3/13/15]