Ethanol group: Don’t believe ‘slick’ oil industry (video)

The nation’s largest ethanol trade group is launching a new television commercial and flooding Washington, D.C. in a three-day lobbying blitz aimed at warding off changes to an eight-year-old renewable fuel mandate.

About 150 members of Growth Energy are in Washington, D.C. for meetings with Obama administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staff on the issue. The goal, said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, is to counter the oil industry’s arguments that the renewable fuel standard is driving up the cost of gasoline and food.

“These meetings are designed to get the facts out there,” Buis told reporters. “Big Oil has done everything in its power to block competition and the use of clean renewable fuels, all to protect their market share and profitability.”

The group’s D.C. fly-in comes as lawmakers consider making broad changes to the renewable fuel standard and as oil refiners say they have run into a blend wall, a point where adding enough ethanol to gasoline to satisfy the requirements would result in blends exceeding the 10 percent cap approved for use in all vehicles.

First created in 2005 and expanded two years later, the renewable fuel standard requires refiners to blend steadily escalating amounts of biofuel into the nation’s gasoline supply. Most of the mandate has so far been satisfied by corn-based ethanol made in the United States or sugarcane supplies from Brazil.

But the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline approved for all cars and trucks is capped at 10 percent. A 15 percent blend is approved for cars and trucks made since 2001, but Toyota and other automakers say using the product will void vehicle warranties.

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Although a number of bills have been introduced to spike the RFS altogether, more modest changes are likely. Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which held hearings on the issue earlier this summer, are developing legislation to revamp the mandate. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has planned a hearing soon.

Growth Energy also has begun running the second ad in a campaign defending the renewable fuel standard from oil industry criticism. The advertisement, which will appear during cable news shows and run in some local markets, features a ventriloquist “Mr. Slick” and a dummy who starts talking back. The script:

Mr. Slick: “Do you know what the RFS is, Dummy?”
Dummy: “It’s the renewable fuel standard. It requires the oil compass to blend renewable fuels with their gasoline.”
Mr. Slick: “And that’s real bad, right?”
Dummy: “Yeah, for Big Oil. Because it means we use less oil and more renewable –”
Mr. Slick: “Dummy!”

The Growth Energy ad ends with the tagline: “You’re no dummy. Don’t let the oil industry treat you like one.”

The American Petroleum Institute has been running its own ads casting the renewable fuel standard as broken beyond repair. The latest API commercial, which began airing nationwide in August, features everyday people behind the wheel, at a car service station and stranded on the side of the road while blaming the renewable fuel standard for their woes.

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