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The battle to counter Big Oil's campaign

Fuels America is redoubling its efforts to point the finger at the real beneficiaries should the RFS be weakened and E15 smeared and it's not consumers or the environment.
By Susanne Retka Schill | February 25, 2013

Fuels America had a little fun with a “Valentine” to Big Oil interests. Sarcasm is tricky to pull off, but this video succeeds. The video strikes me as being a new tactic, so I put a call into the agency behind the Fuels America coalition effort to defend the RFS, Glover Park Group. I was told that it is indeed is a sign of a new effort to point the finger at who really will benefit if they succeed in killing the RFS and smearing E15 – Big Oil.

American consumers won’t benefit. Even with high corn prices, ethanol prices are a healthy discount to gasoline.  If the RFS is weakened, gasoline costs will go up.

The environment won’t benefit. Attacking the RFS is all about reducing the requirements, and thus incentives to get GHG-reducing advanced biofuels launched. It also insures Big Oil won’t lose any more market share. More oil exploration isn’t exactly a positive for the environment.

I learned the oil industry and its pals have a big bankroll behind their efforts to fatally wound renewable fuels. The 2012 profit for the top five oil companies came to $188 billion in 2012, and those five companies spend over $49 million on lobbying. Something like 50 PR firms have been hired to get the message out. It’s no accident that letters to the editor and op ed pieces are popping up all over. The writers get “paid to play” I learned.

The Glover Park Group spokesman also said the U.S. renewable fuels industry has done a good job of telling its story, but needs to redouble its efforts. More in the grassroots needs to get involved. Letters to the editor, at 150 words or so, are tightly focused and effective. Most newspapers make it easy to send letters via email. Op ed pieces are longer and allow ethanol producers or farmers to tell more about how the issue at hand affects their businesses. Fuels America supplies quick facts on its websites. The blog is where you’ll find longer discussions of the various issues as they arise, often with links to supporting material.

Fuels America wants to take advantage of the new media, too. Since I do a lot on the web using keywords like ethanol and renewable fuels, I’ve been impressed at how many times the Fuels America ads pop up – on my local daily newspaper site, even.

I’m no power user of Twitter, but apparently that is quickly becoming a new public opinion vehicle.  Every member of Congress and reporters in D.C. are all on Twitter these days. Fuels America organized one Twitter day of action that sent 600-some tweets to the EPA administrator. They hope to do more. They would love to flood Washington with thousands of tweets to capture the attention of policymakers when critical issues arise. Sign up at the www.fuelsamerica.org to get notices of things you can do.