The oil industry is planning to make a major advertising push in a wide swath of states against the Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel Standard in the coming weeks.
Frank Macchiarola, director of the American Petroleum Institute's Downstream Group, said Tuesday his organization will be launching television, radio and online advertisements against the mandate. The Renewable Fuel Standard is the amount of biofuel, mostly corn ethanol, required to be added to the nation's gasoline supply every year.
Macchiarola said API plans to buy ads in Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Nevada, Virginia and Florida. He declined to say how much API was planning to spend on the ads.
The goal is to pressure federal officials to change how the mandate works, he said.
"It's becoming quite apparently to policymakers on the Hill that this is a broken policy that needs to change," he said. "Over time, as demand has gone down and production has gone up … it's only shown the policy doesn't work."
The goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard is to put more renewable fuels into the nation's gasoline supply in an attempt to cut down on carbon emissions from automobiles.
The EPA has proposed putting 18.8 billion gallons of biofuel in the nation's gasoline in 2017. That would constitute about 10.44 percent of the nation's gasoline supply being made up of biofuel.
However, oil groups such as API argue that percentage of biofuel could harm vehicle engines by pushing past the so-called "blend wall," or the point at which a car engine is harmed by the amount of biofuel in the gas. API argues some vehicles on the road and many smaller engines, such as ones in lawnmowers and motorcycles, would be harmed by the 2017 mandate.
Ethanol groups argue that the blend wall is a construct of the oil industry and most vehicles on the road can safely use the amount of biofuel proposed by the EPA.
Despite that, Macchiarola said API has polling that shows many Americans are concerned about the effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard on their vehicles. It's up to lawmakers to change how the standard works to benefit consumers, he said.
One of the best ways to do that would be to make sure the amount of ethanol in the nation's gasoline supply never pushed past 9.7 percent, he said. That would be short of the "blend wall," which is commonly put at 10 percent.
"We need to end harmful policies that could raise the cost of energy and negatively impact thousands of vehicles on the road," Macchiarola said.