What is Big Oil Afraid of? Competition?

By Tom Buis | April 01, 2013

It didn’t take long after the beginning of the 113th Congress for Big Oil to turn up the rhetoric and attacks on biofuels. The American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petro Chemical Manufacturers and the Coordinating Research Council, an oil-funded group that is paid to produce the results its funders ask for, wasted no time in pushing for a repeal of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and to restrict consumers from a choice at the pump of a homegrown, renewable, less expensive and better-performing fuel. And, just over a month ago, API announced it would appeal to the Supreme Court on E15, even after it has lost this challenge twice in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Oil companies fear the inevitable breakthrough of the blend wall, increasing the amount of biofuels in the marketplace and therefore reducing their market share, breaking their record profits and hurting their bottom line. Oil companies have had a monopoly for nearly a century, receiving hefty government subsidies and tax breaks the entire time. Competition is what makes the free market work, it always has and the monopolies of the past have shown they do not benefit the consumer at all. 

We continue to see needless legislative proposals to repeal the RFS and midlevel ethanol blends such as E15. One-sided committee hearings shut out biofuels stakeholders, placing the heavy hand of the government on the scales in favor of one industry over another. American motorists should have the ability to choose their fuel based on price and performance, not a monopoly at the pump. Many lawmakers, however, succumb to special interests and their actions deny consumers the voluntary choice of a less-expensive, cleaner, higher-performing fuel. 

History has a way of repeating itself, and just like the Chicken Council in the past, the American Automobile Association has no legitimacy in testifying on Capitol Hill about the science and performance of midlevel ethanol blends. Frankly, the Chicken Council has as much business testifying on E15 as Colonel Sanders would have on nuclear nonproliferation.

The reality is oil’s endless money can continue to fund its foolish attempts to prevent biofuels from entering the marketplace. This fight is far from over, and while our opponents have deep pockets, they do not have the facts on their side. 

E15 is not mandatory, rather it is a voluntary choice for both the retailer to sell and the consumer to buy. There is no logical reason that the most-tested fuel in history should be blocked from the commercial marketplace. E15 provides consumers with a choice and welcome savings in this time of exorbitant gas prices.  Our industry must continue to drive this message if we are to be successful in fending off our critics. Increased blends of biofuels do make a difference when it comes to consumer savings. A recent Louisiana State University study found that the U.S. production of 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2011 saved U.S. drivers roughly 83 cents a gallon in 2011, totaling $111.22 billion in savings.

The bottom line is that E15 is a homegrown, American renewable fuel that creates jobs that cannot be outsourced, it is better for our environment and the air we breathe and E15 will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provides consumers a choice and savings. This fuel really is a win-win for America and no consumer should be denied the voluntary choice of a less-expensive fuel.

It is time we all reach out to our elected officials and ask them why, when gas prices continue to rise, would they want to deny consumers and retailers the voluntary choice of a less-expensive, higher-performing and cleaner renewable fuel? You can help today by contacting your legislators and asking them to defend the RFS and to stand firm against frequent Big Oil attacks. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or email your elected representatives. If you have any questions on who or how to contact, our staff in D.C. is ready to help and can be reached at 202-545-4000.

Big Oil’s monopoly will come to an end, and it will be the American farmer and those in the biofuel industry who will ultimately drive the change that will end the oil company’s monopoly, helping to transition to homegrown, American fuel that is better for our environment, our economy and our energy security.

Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy