Progressive group ties oil lobby to Saudi Arabia

The progressive Americans United for Change (AUFC) announced an ad campaign Wednesday saying that Saudi Arabia’s national oil company is funding the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) push against renewable fuels.

AUFC cites tax documents to say that API’s campaign against the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is funded by foreign oil interests. It will air its ad May 4 during news talk shows.

A voiceover says Saudi Arabia has “some good friends” at API. “Together, they’re bankrolling these political ads attacking American-made fuels like ethanol, to keep you addicted to their oil.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The commercial refers to ads API launched in March encouraging policymakers to reduce or abolish RFS mandates.

AUFC said documents API has filed with the Internal Revenue Service show that executives of Saudi Arabia’s state oil company and its subsidiaries have served on its board of directors.

“Here you have a lobbyist for the Saudi King helping call the shots at the American Petroleum Institute,” AUFC president Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. “They’re funneling Saudi Oil money into a campaign to force us all to buy more Saudi oil, and passing it off as American as apple pie.”

Under the RFS, oil refiners must blend a certain amount of renewable fuels into their products every year. API opposes the standard, saying it raises prices and is harmful to some engines, among other arguments.

API spokesman Carlton Carroll said the group’s membership list is publicly available, so AUFC’s information is not secret.

“API is an advocacy organization for oil and natural gas companies that have U.S. operations,” Carroll said in a statement. “Given the U.S. energy renaissance, many international companies have a substantial presence in the U.S. as employers and taxpayers, just as many U.S. companies have an international presence.”

 

 

The same day AUFC announced its ad, API wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, encouraging it to set the ethanol mandate at a level that is 9.7 percent of overall gasoline production or lower. Not all engines can handle more than a 10 percent ethanol blend and some consumers demand lower blends, so putting the mandate just below 10 would be ideal, API said.