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Friday, November 20, 2015

Big Oil Tries to Kill the RFS, Media Outlets Win

For the past several weeks, the corn and ethanol industry has been in a dogfight with Big Oil. The latest topic is EPA's anticipated announcement of the next round of "RVO's", or Renewable Volumetric Obligations scheduled for the end of November. RVO's are the mechanism inside the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that directs the amounts of ethanol to be blended with gasoline by "obligated parties", or oil refiners. The battle has been ugly and expensive, and there is no end in sight. The oil industry's goal is to chip away at the meaningful parts of the RFS so they can regain their monopoly on liquid automobile fuel. The winner certainly isn't consumers - the winner is the media. Ethanol's side of the story is being outspent four-to-one.

The fight brings interesting players into the arena. Bloomberg reported last week that a Marathon lobbyist authored a dear colleague letter that was placed on a Congressional office's letterhead, asking EPA to scale back the RVO's. And franchise owners of fast food restaurants are aggressively delivering talking points to Congressional offices with the message that hamburgers and drumsticks are more expensive because of the RFS. "That's perplexing," explained Adam Andrews, KyCorn's Programs Director "because the price of corn is cheaper today and for the past few years than it was on the day the RFS passed. All of the other tangibles in their industry are petroleum-related."

There is a political effort underway in the midst of all of this chaos, as well. NCGA, recognizing that EPA is most directly linked to the RVO issue, decided that maybe a campaign to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) would get the attention of EPA's boss, President Obama. KyCorn fully supports the effort. It involves farmers mailing a brief note along with a sample of corn to the political strategy officials in President Obama's and thus EPA's party.

Its premise is to let President Obama know, through the DCCC, that farmers are watching as his employees announce this monumental decision for rural America. NCGA is asking farmers to send a sample of corn from his field with a handwritten message that: on Election Day, farmers will remember how EPA handles this RVO decision. NCGA developed a kit to help farmers do this, but the distribution list was very selective, only farmers who have recently participated in other NCGA grassroots efforts. If you didn't receive a kit, we still want you to participate, KyCorn acquired extras. Send a message to Adam Andrews at adam@kycorn.org, he will get the tools to you ASAP.

The RFS is working, but only if our political leaders stay the course. As an advocate for your industry, the time for you to speak up is upon you.

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