Industry coalition launches ads aimed at protecting RFS

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A coalition of biofuels, agriculture and national security interests today launched an ad campaign seeking to protect the federal biofuel mandate.

The campaign by Fuels America promotes biofuels’ role in increasing consumer choice at the gas station and comes a week after an oil industry trade group launched an opposing campaign seeking repeal of the renewable fuel standard (RFS). It will feature ads on television, radio, online and print media that will run in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area beginning tomorrow.

The print version of the ad features two photos: one of a hand dripping with oil that’s been spilled and another of a crystal-clear drop of water sitting on a green leaf. “There is a choice,” the ad reads.

The television version also features two “alternate worlds.” The ad begins with a black-and-white shot of soldiers marching with the words, “Oil takes us to dangerous places around the world and puts our brave men and women in harm’s way” then cuts to a green field and the words, “Renewable fuel is made here at home.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the ads were in response to oil companies “trying to deny consumers a choice at the pump.” Dinneen didn’t say how much the coalition would spend on what he called “a very serious effort.”

“We’re talking about the fundamental choice America’s facing when it comes to our fuel mix. Do we want alternatives to oil, or not?” Dinneen said.

Last week, the American Petroleum Institute launched its own ads alleging engine damage with the increased use of ethanol in gasoline (E&ENews PM, July 15). It is calling for the complete repeal of the RFS, which Congress put in place in 2007 to require refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels into petroleum-based motor fuel a year by 2022.

A larger coalition of groups representing livestock, food, engine manufacturing and environmental interests is also calling on Congress to either repeal or scale back the RFS requirements.

Representatives from Fuels America today urged Congress to not open up the RFS to change, arguing that U.S. EPA has the authority already to make any necessary changes to the standard through waivers and other flexibility instruments.

“Any weakening, any backing off on it is definitely a threat to the future of it,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “That’s what they want. They don’t want to see the higher blends, they don’t want to see the next generation of feedstocks developed.”

The campaign is beginning as lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are scheduled tomorrow to begin a much-hyped hearing on the standard in which 16 witnesses — both supporters and opponents of the standard — are slated to testify (E&E Daily, July 22). The ads also come as EPA is set to release its final 2013 volume requirements under the RFS for conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels, a category that includes biodiesel and cellulosic biofuel.