RFS foes launch ad campaign in Ohio — a corn state

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A free-market organization is backing a TV ad campaign in four states that encourages viewers to oppose the renewable fuel standard, the nearly decade-old mandate to boost biofuel production through 2022.

The American Council for Capital Formation launched the ads today in Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The multimillion-dollar campaign will run through November. A more precise dollar amount was not provided.

The ads hit as U.S. EPA prepares to finalize the target production volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016 on Nov. 30, according to a legal settlement reached earlier this year. The bulk of biofuel produced in the country is corn ethanol, a boon to corn-producing states like Ohio, despite criticism from the oil industry, some environmental groups and anti-hunger organizations.

“For the past decade, Washington’s broken corn ethanol mandate has burdened Ohioans with higher fuel and food costs and actually worsened Ohio’s environment,” said David Banks, vice president of ACCF, in a statement. “With the EPA now considering the potential to mandate even more damaging corn ethanol to be added to the nation’s fuel supply, it’s time for Congress to protect consumers and our environment by repealing this failed policy.”

The ads build on the campaign’s ads running in the Washington, D.C., market. First enacted in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the biofuel mandate was significantly expanded with the passage of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which set a timeline for the country to ramp up production to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

EPA sets annual targets according to the timeline. The agency has deviated from the 2007 schedule in past years, due to a lack of commercially available low-carbon advanced biofuel and in response to pressure to keep corn ethanol under 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply. Blends that are 10 percent ethanol or lower pose a lesser risk to automotive engines, according to the petroleum industry and small engine manufacturers.

Last week, the pro-biofuel campaign Fuels America launched a seven-figure campaign to promote renewable fuels as a low-carbon energy source ahead of the U.N. climate change conference in Paris next month (E&ENews PM, Oct. 29).

But opponents of the RFS say that biofuels are less likely to curb global warming than they have been portrayed by the Obama administration, pointing to a recent University of Tennessee study that finds that the RFS has not lowered greenhouse gas emissions (Greenwire, Oct. 15).

Two subcommittees of the House Science Committee are meeting jointly today to discuss the environmental impact and costs of the RFS over its 10-year history (E&E Daily, Nov. 2).

ACCF is part of the Smarter Fuel Future campaign, an anti-ethanol group that includes the National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Marine Manufacturers Association and other organizations that oppose the RFS.