New Fuels America coalition launches campaign to defend RFS

By Sue Retka Schill | September 27, 2012

The advanced biofuels community is taking the threat seriously of a possible waiver or opening the renewable fuel standard for amendment. In the third conference call in recent weeks hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a new coalition, Fuels America, was announced along with the launching of a four-state plus Washington, D.C., advertising campaign.

“Fuels America is built around one core idea: renewable fuel is essential to the U.S. economy, our nation’s energy security, our rural communities and the environment,” said former Congressman Jim Greenwood, CEO and president of BIO. “More than 400,000 American jobs are supported by renewable transportation fuel, and America leads the world in renewable fuel innovation. That is why Fuels America’s diverse membership has come together to reset the national conversation on renewable fuel, protect the progress that has been made and ensure that America’s renewable fuel standard continues its success.” 

The Fuels America campaign will be a national effort, including advertising, beginning in Washington, DC and several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Delaware and Montana. Each state will have its own online platform reachable through and feature the stories of renewable fuel innovators and communities with a stake in maintaining the RFS.

“In this election year all eyes are on Ohio, and in Ohio our eyes are focused on growing our state’s economy,” said Pam Hall, president of the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce in Marion, Ohio. “For a rural community with a declining population and other economic challenges, the 2008 opening of a renewable fuel plant in Marion County was clearly something to celebrate. Today 68 million gallons of ethanol are produced at our plant by 41 individuals who add to our local and state tax base. That plant would not have been built without the renewable fuel standard, and that is exactly the type of industry our community needs to improve our economic future.”

“Renewable fuel matters to everyone in Colorado, from farmers in the eastern part of the state to researchers at our universities and entrepreneurs in our clean tech economy,” said Jim Imbler, president and CEO of Lakewood, Colo.-based ZeaChem Inc. “ZeaChem has grown from an innovative idea for producing cellulosic fuel to a scaled operation ready to manufacture. The investor certainty created by the renewable fuel standard is essential to our continued growth, and to the growth of other advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals companies like ours.”

Members of the Fuels America coalition also stressed that renewable fuel plays a central role in increasing America’s energy independence. Since 2000, domestically-grown renewable fuel has contributed to a 25 percent reduction in oil imports from the Persian Gulf, making the nation more energy independent and driving down prices at the pump. Americans saved $50 billion on imported fuel costs in 2011 thanks to renewable fuel.

“America’s energy security and national security depend on expanding our renewable fuel sector, said retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, President of the American Council On Renewable Energy “The renewable fuel innovation we have seen across the country since the RFS was created is helping break America’s dependence on foreign oil and giving our armed forces new assets on the battlefield. Protecting America’s renewable fuel standard will protect that progress, improve our country’s energy security and protect our men and women in uniform.”

Coalition members noted that the rapidly emerging advanced renewable fuel sector has benefited directly from the RFS, with advanced facilities now producing fuel in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has created billions in investment and created hundreds of thousands of careers,” said Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes North America. “If the RFS is altered or undermined, companies like ours will have to make tough choices about where to put our long-term dollars. Keeping those dollars, and the jobs they will continue to create, in America means keeping the RFS in place. It’s a market-based signal to innovators and investors—and it works.”

An interesting detail emerged in the media question period following the prepared statements, the same company that handled the 2008 food versus fuel campaign for ethanol industry opponents is handling this new campaign for the coalition. Greenwood explained the company is well known and quite good.  “They’ve change their focus, they know the topic,” Greenwood said. “We’re glad to have them on our side.”

Fuels America coalition members include: 25x25, Abengoa Bioenergy, ACORE, Advanced Ethanol Council, American Coalition for Ethanol, American Security Project, BIO, DuPont, Growth Energy, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, Novozymes, Poet, Renewable Fuels Association.

The coalition also launched an online platform at  and a Twitter presence @FuelsAmerica.