The National Corn Growers Association is “deeply disappointed” that Members of Congress who represent corn-producing states have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a reduction in the volume of corn-ethanol blended into the fuel supply as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter was signed by 184 Members of Congress and according to Open Secrets, collectively, these legislators have received $39 million from the oil industry throughout their careers.
“I’m disappointed to see Members of Congress turn their back on farmers and rural communities,” said Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers and a farmer from Stratford, Texas. The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. The RFS works. It has reduced our dependence on foreign oil. It has made the rural economy stronger. And it has been better for the environment. It’s puzzling that these Representatives would not want to support it.”
On November 4, 2015, the House members made a request to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for corn-based ethanol, the amount of biofuels blended into the transportation fuel supply each year. NCGA states that this action would violate congressional statue. The organization cites an article from Bloomberg News that claims that the initial drafts of the congressional letter were written by an oil industry lobbyist.
“This letter has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it,” continued Spurlock. “The letter includes false attacks on ethanol that have been disproven time and again. The blend wall is a false construct. We have known from the beginning that eventually we would need higher blends of ethanol to meet the statutory requirements. That was the point: to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The oil industry doesn’t want to hear that. That’s why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS, even to the point of having their lobbyists write this letter.”
Also responding to the letter was Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “It should come as no surprise that, as the November 30th deadline for the EPA to issues its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs looms, the Big Oil spin machine has gone into overdrive and the petroleum industry is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to confuse the public and mislead policymakers about this important program. The fact that members of Congress are parroting Big Oil’s blend wall narrative is shameful evidence that money talks.
“But the facts say something different. If the blend wall is such an impenetrable barrier to increasing the amount of biofuels that can be blended with gasoline, how can Big Oil explain that, according to data recently released by the Energy Information Agency, in 2013 ethanol comprised more than 10 percent of gasoline consumption in 22 states and the District of Columbia? This begs the question: What blend wall?” concluded Dinneen.
And Brent Erickson, executive vice president at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) added, “The oil industry has been caught red-handed in authoring the letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy and duping 180 lawmakers into putting their names on it. It is very disturbing to see the lengths the oil refining industry will go to distort the record and protect their profits and fuel monopoly.”
Spurlock is calling on farmers, employees of the renewable fuels industry, and rural community leaders to contact their elected officials and make their voices heard regarding their support of the RFS.