Addressing a gathering of thousands of leading ethanol industry pioneers at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) yesterday, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen made clear those “that are quite comfortable with our use of oil and want to see cheap corn” are mounting a full assault on the policies that have helped make ethanol 10 percent of the nation’s fuel supply, specifically focusing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the march toward E15 ethanol blends.
“The RFS is under attack in Washington, D.C., today,” Dinneen said in an interview with DomesticFuel.com. “I don’t see for a moment that it will be unraveled this year. They will continue to next year and they will continue to fight in the courts. I think it’s really important for the industry to know that the wolves are at the door.”
Dinneen was referring to the reported efforts of Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) to “reform” the RFS. Speaking to the National Journal on this issue, Sen. Inhofe made his intentions clear stating, “’I’ve had problems with ethanol for as long as I can remember, and I’m going to be doing what I can to relieve that and do away with the mandate, actually.’”
In his keynote remarks, Dinneen noted that he was confident that ethanol could stand up to the scrutiny provided that oil and other fuels were given equal and honest examination as well. “If you are going to do a ‘seed-to-wheels’ analysis of ethanol, that is fair enough. How about the war-to-wheels analysis of oil? We need to put this debate back into perspective.”
The Senate effort led by Sens. Inhofe and Coons is occurring at the same time a familiar group of industry lobbies are preparing a multi-million dollar, multi-year campaign to eliminate the RFS. This group is reportedly to include industry lobbies like the American Petroleum Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and National Chicken Council along with environmental activists like Friends of the Earth.
Many will remember the effort by GMA from 2008 led by the public relations agency the Glover Park Group. In its response to GMA’s Request for Proposals, GPG stated that the two most important objectives were:
• First, we must obliterate whatever intellectual justification might still exist for corn-based ethanol among policy elites.
• Second, we must demonstrate to policy makers at the state and federal level that there is a political price to allowing ethanol policy to drive up the cost of food.
Dinneen preemptively struck back at the likely tactics of this latest campaign, stating “We will not be misled, nor will we allow the American people to be misled by their misinformation. We are going to come together, we are going to defend the RFS [renewable fuel standard], we are going to ensure that this industry continues to grow and evolve because of the innovation that you will show at the plant and because of the passion that we will bring to Washington, D.C., to remind them of the importance of this industry, the importance of the RFS and the importance of the continued evolution of this industry.”
Dinneen, addressing the ongoing effort by the petroleum industry to prevent any expansion in the market for ethanol, noted that the oil industry will do everything possible to stop E15 from becoming a reality. “It’s going to be up to all of us to explain to people how E15 can’t hurt your radiator and how one fill up can’t hurt your fuel pump. Brace yourselves. It will be brutal. We are going to have to be vigilant for when this occurs.”