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Big Oil should be ashamed

We know better than to believe Big Oil's continued assertions that the RFS is bad for America
By Ron Kotrba | November 28, 2012

Just two weeks after the U.S. EPA denied several state requests to waive the renewable fuel standard—pleas made under the banner of drought, lower crop yields and the possibility of higher crop prices (EPA determined waiving the RFS would only reduce corn prices by a meager 1 percent)—Big Oil and Big Food have launched an all-out attack on biofuels and the RFS … once again.

Are you as tired as I am from watching associations that represent the most profitable corporations in the world spend millions, who knows, maybe billions, of dollars to squash small, green American businesses? What degree of absurdity must be achieved before the public reacts to these borderline travesties of justice? How do you feel knowing that when you put gas in your tank at the local filling station, a portion of that huge bill—not the much larger chunk that lines Big Oil executives’ pockets—is spent on media campaigns and lobbying Congress to wipe alternative, renewable fuels out of existence? If you’re anything like me, it enrages you.

During a media call this week with American Petroleum Institute’s Bob Greco, he led his introductory remarks by saying, “Let me first be clear that our member companies support renewable fuels.” If this is true, then why have the associations that represent these “biofuel-supporting” companies made their life’s work out of viciously opposing biofuels time and time again based on the same fallacious merits? I think we know better.

On that call, I read to Greco a few lines from API’s news release regarding the lawsuit it filed against EPA, in which API made specific mention of EPA’s restructuring of the RIN program that has “yet to be resolved” (one of its reasons EPA should reconsider its decision to increase the mandate 28 percent for 2013), and then I asked him why API hasn’t acknowledged progress made by EPA in this effort, evidenced by the early release of draft QAP guidelines for EPA-approved RIN verification programs.

“We have not overlooked that,” he responded. “In fact, we have pushed EPA to move faster on this.”

Really? How’s that? By bogging the agency down with petitions to waive or scale back the RFS, over and over and over again to no avail?

“The other critical reality is that the RFS program was enacted at a time when our nation’s energy landscape was far different,” Greco said. “With the current boom in domestic oil and natural gas development, we are steadily reducing our foreign energy dependence, well beyond what the RFS program has achieved. Also, the increasing use of affordable, plentiful domestic natural gas supplies has helped drive a decline in greenhouse gas emissions. The notion that we need an RFS to promote energy independence and security, as the 2007 statute is named, has been turned on its head by the tremendous growth in domestic oil and natural gas.”

While the energy landscape may have changed since 2007, some things haven’t. Oil is still nonrenewable. Fossil fuel is finite. Continued extraction of carbon-rich oil, natural gas and coal from deep underground for combustion and release into the atmosphere is expediting climate change. Expanded combustion of fossil fuel will continue to cause declines in the air quality of our nation’s—our world’s—cities, leading to greater cancer rates and other serious, terminal health problems. The world’s fresh and salt water supplies, already stressed from the past 100-plus years of oil exploration, will continue to decline, particularly when new methods to extract more oil and natural gas use chemicals that A) are not required to be disclosed, and B) continue to threaten the health of wildlife and groundwater supplies. And the biggest thing that hasn’t changed since 2007 is that we still cannot trust Big Oil to do or say what’s in the public’s best interest.