The Facts Never Lie

By Tom Buis | October 11, 2013

It’s no secret that Big Oil and its allies have and will continue to do anything and everything to discredit the ethanol industry. Time and again these groups have disseminated misleading information and outright distortions in attempts to deceive the American public, protect their market share and, ultimately, their bottom line. But, when you take a good look at the whole picture, it’s clear. The facts don’t lie and the misinformation thrown at the biofuels industry is being picked apart by the truth.

Big Oil has been pushing back on E15, saying it will damage engines and that consumers don’t even want it. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Fuels America, a coalition including Growth Energy, shows that there is an overwhelming desire for renewable fuels. Conducted in late September, the poll shows that 82 percent of U.S. consumers support having E15 at their local gas stations. Furthermore, for the retailers who have introduced E15 to their consumers, it has quickly become a customer favorite, with many retailers saying that their new E15 sales make up approximately 30 percent of their entire fuel sales. 

The oil industry has attacked the safety of E15 as well, going so far as to launch national advertisements (with actors masquerading as mechanics) based on the false premise that E15 will damage your engine. The proof? An oil-funded study conducted with no scientific basis whatsoever that used dubious technical assumptions. In fact, only eight vehicles were tested and one even failed running on pure gasoline. This led the U.S. DOE to publish a blog to counter oil’s findings, stating that the agency believes “the study is significantly flawed.”

Big Oil also wants you to believe that E15 results in dramatically lower gas mileage. This is simply not true. Any mileage loss is negligible and is substantially offset by the price reduction. Furthermore, the oil industry wants you to believe that E15 is a mandate, that consumers would be forced to fuel up with this blend. This couldn’t be further from the truth. E15 has always been about consumer choice, offering an alternative at the pump that is otherwise not available. 

Big Oil claims it needs to eliminate the renewable fuel standard (RFS) in order to have a competitive marketplace.  It already has a near monopoly on the current fuels dispensed and the industry wants to make sure it stays this way. This battle is about market share, plain and simple. Just this year, the five biggest oil companies earned an astonishing $145,000 in profits per minute! To put that in perspective, that is nearly three times the median household income of Americans, which is $52,762 per year. Yet the industry still goes out of its way to block market access for ethanol. Why? They will do anything to prevent competition in the marketplace.

Big Oil has also teamed up with Big Food to paint the picture that the ethanol industry is driving up food prices, which is an outright distortion of reality. While feed costs have increased over the past few years, during the same time frame, the food industry has both covered its feed costs and pocketed nearly $8 billion a year in additional income. The poultry industry alone has made huge profits largely thanks to increased margins. In the past four years, retailers increased their margins by more than 11 cents per pound per year over and above the price they paid the farmer who incurred all the production costs.    

Want more proof? From 2009 through this past May, the Consumer Price Index for food has increased 8.7 percent, tracking pretty closely to the 7.8 percent increase in the index for all items. Yet, during this same time frame, gasoline prices rose 38.4 percent. This increase further supports the recent World Bank study that identified energy costs as the driving force for more than 50 percent of the increase in food prices worldwide. The study also demonstrated that agriculture commodity prices had little impact on consumer food prices.  

I could continue, correcting more and more of oil’s tricks with cold hard facts, but I think I’ve made my point.  Let’s hope Americans can see through Big Oil’s web of deception, see the facts and understand the truth about ethanol and the liquid fuels market. It’s time for Americans to have the choice of a clean, green homegrown American fuel that provides them with a choice and savings at the pump.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy
202-545-4000
tbuis@growthenergy.org