Oil industry intensifies opposition to biofuel rule with ad blitz

"The renewable fuel standard program is broken beyond repair. By mandating higher ethanol content in gasoline than is safe, it threatens American consumers, the investments they’ve made in their vehicles, and our economic well-being," he said.

Biofuel groups quickly retaliated, labeling the advertisements as misleading.

“This is just more of the same from Big Oil. They will stop at nothing to maintain their near monopoly on the liquid fuels market, even if it means saddling consumers with ever increasing prices at the pump," Tom Buis, chief executive with corn ethanol group Growth Energy, said in a statement.

The API initiative comes as both the House and the Senate are hosting hearings that will touch on the biofuel-blending rule, which requires refiners to combine 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels with conventional petroleum by 2022.

API is pushing for a full repeal of the rule, and has thrown its support behind bills to do just that in both chambers.

API says refiners “blend wall” that will force them to produce fuels with higher ethanol concentrations to meet the mandate’s accelerating targets.

API, along with the AAA motor club, contends that the higher concentration — known as E15, which consists of 15 percent ethanol rather than the standard 10 percent — harms car engines. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved its use in cars made in 2001 or later, which opponents say is misguided.

The first ad in API’s new effort speaks to that claim.

It features a mechanic working a car, with warnings that fuels with the higher ethanol could damage engines and void warranties.

But the prospects of a full repeal are unlikely — though some key lawmakers have expressed interest in making changes to the rule.

Greco acknowledged that repeal might not be in the offing this any time soon, which is why API is turning its sight toward the White House.

Greco said API is scheduling a meeting with the White House Office of Management and Budget next week to discuss the fuel rule.

He said API intends to ask OMB to push the EPA to lower the blending mandate for this year, and also to erase a refining requirement for certain advanced biofuels.

“We want a repeal bill to move this year,” Greco said. “But we also recognize that this Congress is not moving as quickly on a lot of issues as it should.”