Why The Sudden Barrage Of Attacks On Ethanol?

  • Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:00

Over the past few weeks, the ethanol industry has been the subject of a barrage of attacks from various quarters.

From a former Tonight Show host to op-eds and editorials in the New York Times and USA Today respectively to a group supposedly representing the advanced biofuels industry, the ethanol industry has been taking hits on all fronts.

Not surprisingly, these attacks have been largely based on fictitious premises and often echo Big Oil’s talking points. In fact, it almost seems as though Big Oil has found some new proxies to carry out its war on ethanol. Then again, considering how Action Aid and EWG keep getting discredited with their frivolous claims, it only makes sense Big Oil had to find some new outlets.

What is clear is that the attacks on ethanol are not a coincidence and seem to bear the hallmarks of an orchestrated campaign.

The big question, however, is what prompted Big Oil to launch this new offensive blitz? Here are a few possible theories.

1. Is it a reaction to the support the majority of Republican presidential candidates showed for the RFS at the recent 2015 Iowa Ag Summit?

Ever since that event, the RFS has been thrust into the limelight with pundits and critics examining previous statements of support from the GOP’s presidential candidates. More importantly, it has made the RFS a key policy issue for any candidate (Republican or Democrat) hoping to win the Iowa caucuses in 2016.

2. Is it to drum up support for a misguided bill in the U.S. Senate that would eliminate corn ethanol from the RFS?

Back in January, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Pat Toomey tried to insert an anti-corn ethanol amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill. While that amendment fell through, they introduced the equally ludicrous Feinstein – Toomey Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2016 in late February. You can read our views on their proposed changes to the RFS here.

3. Is the EPA going to announce the RVOs for 2014, 2015 and 2016?

While the EPA missed its deadline to announce its much delayed RVOs for 2014, it indicated at the recent National Ethanol Conference that it will announce the RVOs for 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the spring of this year. In other words, should there be no more delays (no bets on this), the EPA could very well make an announcement in the coming weeks. And perhaps this is what Big Oil intends to influence the most with its recent barrage of attacks on ethanol.