Ad campaign pushes ethanol in response to Iraq

A new advertising campaign from a liberal group argues that violence in Iraq and the resulting effects on the oil market expand the need for the government to increase the amount of renewable fuels mixed with gasoline.

Americans United for Change is paying for the ads that encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set high levels for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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“More chaos over there means higher prices here,” a voiceover in one of the television ads says. “But we can take control, with clean renewable fuels like ethanol we’re growing right here.”

With the driving-heavy July 4 holiday approaching, gasoline prices are at their highest for this time of year since 2008, auto group AAA said. Analysts have blamed market fears that the violence could disrupt oil supplies coming out of Iraq, thus raising international crude prices.

Meanwhile, the EPA still has not finalized the amount of renewable fuels refiners must mix into their products for 2014 yet, though it has proposed a reduction in the ethanol mandate and a flat biodiesel mandate, compared with last year.

“Any time there is unrest in oil-producing regions overseas, it’s a recipe for jittery markets and inflated oil prices back home,” Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United for Change, said in a statement about the ad. “It’s the reason why the nation can’t afford to scale back the RFS now and put all of our eggs in Big Oil’s basket.”

The group does not specify what levels it wants the EPA to mandate for renewable fuels, but the ad urges the agency not to “gut” the standard.

The ad also argues that ethanol provides more domestic jobs, more security and less pollution than traditional gasoline, and that it costs less.

Americans United for Change is spending more than $400,000 on the campaign. It will start next week.