Petroleum group exec urges caution over renewables

Red Cavaney, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said President Bush’s goal of producing 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels in the next decade is unrealistic.

Bush announced that goal during his State of the Union address as a way to both reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

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In 2005, Congress adopted a federal mandate for the production of 7.5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol by 2012.

Cavaney said a total of around 15 billion gallons of ethanol could come from corn.

Meeting the president’s goal requires the introduction of cellulosic ethanol, and Cavaney said he doubts the fuel will be widely available in time to meet the 2017 deadline.

“We don’t oppose the idea of reaching 35 billion gallons at some point,” Cavaney said.

But overly aggressive federal mandates could lead to disruptions in supply or price spikes that could turn consumers off to the new product, he said.

“We don’t want there to be a train wreck in this process,” Cavaney told reporters at a luncheon at API’s office Friday.

Cavaney also urged Congress to write a global warming bill that doesn’t “hamstring” the economy, although he called climate change a “very real concern.”

He said lawmakers should examine all possible solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including continuing to encourage industry to adopt voluntary carbon-cutting efforts. He also said a carbon tax should be on the table, but noted that proposal has little political support.