Oil lobby unleashes second ad slamming RFS

Source: John McArdle, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The oil industry’s lobbying arm today rolled out its second television ad in a summer campaign targeting the federal renewable fuel standard.

The American Petroleum Institute has argued that the 2007 policy that compels the blending of billion of gallons of ethanol and advanced biofuel into the U.S. motor-fuel supply over the next decade is unworkable and costly for consumers.

As it did in its first ad, API uses its second commercial to highlight several of the alleged harms of using ethanol in cars — from lower mileage and possible engine damage to diverting crops from food production, which could raise food prices.

“I’m about to hit something that could damage my engine. It’s avoidable, but I’m heading right for it. It’s a mandate by Congress for higher levels of ethanol in gasoline,” actors say in the ad. “I’ve had enough financial shocks lately. I don’t need another one.”

The ad ends with a narrator encouraging viewers to tell Congress to repeal the renewable fuel standard “before it’s too late.”

The new 30-second ad is set to run in media markets in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Washington, D.C., according to spokesman Carlton Carroll today.

The ad is designed to coincide with recurring print ads in major newspapers in those states and an ongoing online media campaign. The online campaign included the launch last week of a new effort to encourage Americans to virtually send to Washington engines that have been damaged as a result of ethanol in gasoline. As of this morning, 325 people had “dumped” their engines on Washington.

API has not said how much money it is putting behind what it is calling its “Fuel for Thought” effort. But Carroll described the campaign as a “substantial” effort.

“It’s one of API’s top priorities for this year,” he said.

The ethanol industry has blasted the ad campaign.

“Big Oil’s latest campaign is nothing more than an oil slick of misleading scare tactics. What does it say about an industry so desperate to protect its monopoly that it distorts reality in a feeble effort to hoodwink consumers?” Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said in a statement after the first ad was released.

The latest API ad comes a week after U.S. EPA backed down from an ambitious target for cellulosic biofuel production by releasing a final rule that requires refiners to blend far less cellulosic biofuel into the nation’s supply of gasoline than the agency had originally proposed (Greenwire, Aug. 6).

The ethanol industry said the final rule is a testament to the flexibility of the RFS and a sign of how it can be adjusted with changing markets.

API said the final rule is a sign that ethanol mandates are unworkable.

“Now it’s up to Congress to exercise leadership and move quickly to end this dangerous mandate before it hurts consumers, damages vehicles, and harms our economy,” API President Jack Gerard said in a statement.

Click here to download the commercial.