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Obama Admin Own Worst Enemy on Climate?

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new full page advertisement in Monday’s New York Times tells President Obama that if his administration accepts the EPA’s proposal to fundamentally alter the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—a decision the President is expected to make soon—he “will have inadvertently done more to damage [his] climate legacy than [his] worst enemies.” 

The ad warns that the proposal would let oil companies off the hook for blocking competition from American renewable fuels, and prompt an exodus of investment in cellulosic ethanol—the world’s cleanest motor fuel—to China and Brazil.

Running in the New York Times Monday, the message coincides with “The People’s Climate March” and the beginning of Climate Week.

The EPA’s ill-conceived proposal to gut the RFS comes just as the nation marks the arrival of commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production with four new facilities opening this year.  In the ad, the Advanced Ethanol Council and Biotechnology Industry Organization caution President Obama that investments in additional cellulosic production beyond these four plants will likely shift overseas if the President adopts the flawed methodology of the EPA proposal, regardless of whether he decides to actually raise the renewable fuel targets in the rule.

Source: Advanced Ethanol Council

The full text:

“Dear Mr. President,

“When the federal government implemented the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) a little more than six years ago, America’s innovators listened. Companies like Abengoa, INEOS Bio, and POET-DSM invested billions of dollars developing cellulosic biofuel — the cleanest, lowest carbon motor fuel in the world — and the first commercial plants came online earlier this year.

“But these companies now have a problem no one anticipated.

“Your Administration is proposing to change the RFS rules in the middle of the game with a brand new methodological approach that allows oil companies to avoid their obligations under the law by simply refusing to distribute renewable fuel to consumers. You will have inadvertently done more to damage your climate legacy than your worst enemies.

“To be clear, our companies are not going to fail in the mission to commercialize cellulosic biofuel. But America will fail to lead the charge if your Administration lets oil companies off the hook. And papering over the problem by increasing the RFS targets this year will not prevent the exodus of investment to China and Brazil.  

“When you announced power plant rules to combat climate change earlier this summer, you said that we need builders to hammer into place the foundations for a new clean-energy era.

“We agree. And we stand ready to back you.

“But handing landmark Clean Air Act programs like the RFS over to oil companies is not going to drive investment or give low-carbon industries like ours confidence that the United States is committed to innovation and addressing climate change.

“Mr. President, your legacy requires protecting the RFS.”