Newspapers parrot oil industry’s favorite attack lines


Newspapers parrot oil industry’s favorite attack lines

Posted 21 March 2013 in


In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the oil industry’s propaganda machine go into full gear, misleading consumers and the media as to why gas prices continue to surge. Editorials in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Washington Times have all piled on, adopting Big Oil’s favorite untruths about the nature of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Essentially, the oil industry (and these editorial boards) are claiming that refiners have hit the so-called “blend wall” – that they’re unable to blend any more renewable fuel into the gasoline they produce and must therefore buy Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) to meet the requirements of the RFS, a cost they say must be passed on to the consumer.

But as usual, this line of attack is a smokescreen, intended to distract from the record profits the oil industry continues to collect all while blocking consumer choice at the pump. So before you read another editorial bashing the only policy we have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, make sure you’ve got all the facts:

  1. Oil companies are reaping record profits right now, and they want to protect those profits by shifting attention to biofuels. Last year the five oil majors netted $118 billion in profits, thanks to high gas prices.
  2. The oil industry controls the RINs market because basically everyone trading in the RINs market is an oil refiner, and oil companies only need to use RINs if they refuse to blend ethanol. That’s exactly what they’re doing now – refusing to blend ethanol, because they’ve created the “blend wall.”
  3. Oil created the blend wall by blocking consumer access to E15, which is approved and ready to go. Claims about a “maximum safe limit” are unjustified.
  4. E15 renewable fuel would address any RIN “shortage” and there’s certainly enough ethanol available for purchase right now (at 65 cents cheaper than gasoline).
  5. Since ethanol is cheaper than a RIN, oil companies are actually paying a premium to avoid blending ethanol — and then threatening to make consumers pay for their unwillingness to allow choice at the pump.
  6. Oil was for the RINs market before they were against it. Back in 2007, two major petroleum industry groups threw their weight behind the RINs program – indeed, they insisted EPA create it. Now they’re complaining about a system they wanted:

The rule’s trading program allows refiners and others that do not want to use renewable fuels to buy renewable identification numbers (RIN), or credits from those who exceed the required level of renewable fuels. “The flexibility in the RFS plan is vital in order to integrate ethanol into the gasoline pool quickly and in the most effective way possible,” said American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman Karen Matusic. The EPA has issued a reasonable framework to implement the RFS provisions, said National Petrochemical and Refiners Association Executive Vice President Charles Drevna.

(“Bush officials tout green credentials as EPA rolls out renewable rule,” The Oil Daily, 4/11/2007)

It should be clear now what’s really going on here. Oil companies are threatened by the first viable competition they’ve seen in decades, so they’ll distort and dissemble until they’ve drowned out any opposition to their monopoly on your gas tank. Don’t be fooled.


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Newspapers parrot oil industry’s favorite attack lines

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