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Supporters of Ethanol Launch Media Campaign

The advertising blitz from Growth Energy -- "You're no dummy. Don't let the oil industry treat you like one" -- will be run on major cable news networks and in print and radio. The campaign features a ventriloquist, the oil industry's Mr. Slick, with a dummy who starts talking on his own, taking apart some of Big Oil's arguments against renewable fuels. Growth Energy also launched a website to challenge some of these claims.

Ethanol supporters are taking a shot at the oil industry with a multimillion-dollar nationwide advertising campaign, the latest in the ongoing struggle between the two bitter foes to control the future of the country's renewable fuel policy.

The advertising blitz from Growth Energy, the largest trade association representing the ethanol industry, will inform consumers about the benefits of the corn-based fuel and counter an aggressive push by oil companies to attack the fuel through what the group describes as misleading and inaccurate information.

"Oil companies are trying to mislead Americans to protect their profits and maintain their monopoly," said Tom Buis, chief executive of Growth Energy. "Make no mistake about it, this is a fight about market share. With this ad and grass-roots campaign, we're calling them out on it with our campaign to educate consumers."

Buis said the ethanol industry is a smaller player in a David-versus-Goliath battle where oil companies are able to use their cash and considerable influence to control Congress and lobby against the country's renewable fuel policy.

The battle between oil companies and the ethanol industry centers on the Renewable Fuel Standard, an 8-year-old law that requires refiners to buy alternative fuels made from corn, soybeans and other products in order to reduce the country's dependence on foreign energy. The law calls for 18.15 billion gallons to be blended into the nation's gasoline supply in 2014 -- a figure that will rise to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, has joined a growing chorus of groups critical of the mandate in lobbying Congress to end or overhaul what they say is an outdated measure.

"No amount of ads take away from the fact that the RFS is broken and could harm consumers, increase emissions, damage engines, and void car warranties," said Carlton Carroll, a spokesman with API.

Lawmakers on the House Energy Committee have considered changing the mandate, and a number of bills have been introduced elsewhere in Congress to end or scale back the policy. Still, with a large workload, a limited number of working days remaining and widespread opposition to altering the RFS from Midwestern lawmakers, it appears to be an uphill climb to make any meaningful change.

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November 20, 2019, 3:05 pm PDT

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