Sunday, March 26, 2017

Oil and gas industry steps up campaign against RFS

A national trade association for the oil and natural gas industry has stepped up its campaign against the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

An online and television advertising campaign is currently running in 11 states. The American Petroleum Institute (API) wants to drive home its argument that the RFS is bad for consumers.

“The American consumer is seeking relief from the broken and outdated RFS mandate,” API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola, told EP News Wire.

“This mandate and the high ethanol blends it will bring can result in damaged engines and fuel systems, potentially forcing drivers to pay for costly repairs, according to extensive testing by the auto and oil and natural gas industries,” Macchiarola said.

The RFS mandate could also raise fuel prices for consumers, Macchiarola said.

Macchiarola cited a recent Harris Poll that showed 77 percent of registered voters are concerned about government requiring increased amounts of ethanol in gasoline.

Further, 77 percent agreed that federal regulations could contribute to increased costs at the pump.

The ethanol mandate aims to force consumers to use high ethanol blends they do not want and do not need, the API argues.

The Congressional Budget Office found that forcing ethanol consumption to statutory levels, mainly by using higher ethanol blends like E85, could cost consumers an additional 26 cents per gallon at the pump, the oil and natural gas industry association pointed out.

“These new ads will help further inform voters about the potential dangers of the broken ethanol mandate, and increase calls on Congress to fix the RFS,” Macchiarola said.

The RFS was passed just over a decade ago, with Congress setting how much blend levels should increase by, up to 2022.

But the Obama administration intervened two years ago, and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to alter Congressionally-set RFS levels for ethanol and advanced biofuels. The EPA is currently in the process of setting those limits, though there are court challenges.

It’s an issue mired in politics, and pits two powerful lobby groups, agribusiness and the oil and gas industry, against each other.

Earlier this year, in early primaries in corn-heavy Iowa, only two candidates did not explicitly, and publicly, support the RFS, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican. Other candidates, including eventual nominees Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton, have expressed support for the standard, and Iowa is in play as a swing state.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, D.C., told Missouri Farmer Today that there doesn’t appear to be any major push to dismantle or eliminate the RFS in Congress at the moment.

“Public support is still there. Congressional support is still there," Dinneen said.

Organizations in this story

American Petroleum Institute 1220 L Street, NW Washington, DC 20005

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