Renewable fuel standard under attack from Big Oil

The Hill’s recent sponsor-generated content (“The Renewable Fuel Standard: Not as ‘green’ as you think,” April 4) goes to show that anyone can sell anything with an unlimited budget. 

If you follow the money, it’s easy to trace this anti-Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) piece back to the source. Smarter is the platform for the anti-RFS campaign. It is funded by a pro-oil and an anti-farmer lobby with lots of money to spend: the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (Big Oil); and the National Turkey Federation and National Chicken Council (Big Food).  

Let’s examine the truth. 

The RFS is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to Life Cycle Associates, ethanol production reduced greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 by 34 percent compared to petroleum, including hypothetical indirect land use change. It also found that ethanol production reduces GHG emissions by 37-40 percent compared to tight oil from fracking and tar sands. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory found that no new grassland has been converted to cropland since the RFS was first enacted in 2005, and that both water use for ethanol production and nitrogen use for crop growth are decreasing. The amount of water used in ethanol production has been cut in half since 1998, while nitrogen fertilizer use for crop production has decreased 29 percent since 1985. In fact, in 2012 the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico reached the smallest it has been in 12 years, while deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has dropped to its lowest point since 1988.

And last, but certainly not least, the World Bank found that “most of the food price increases are accounted for by crude oil prices.” For every dollar an American family spends at the grocery store, only 12 cents goes to pay for the farm produced product. The other 88 cents is used for packaging, marketing, transportation and energy. I’d say that this is a large scale, high-priced passing of the buck from a petroleum industry that isn’t willing to take responsibility. 

The RFS, on the other hand, created and sustained more than 386,000 jobs, displaced 462 million barrels of imported foreign oil and added $30.7 billion to household incomes. And yet, Smarter supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed reduction of the 2014 RFS blending volumes. But did Big Oil and its friends think about the extra $10.6 billion Americans would spend on gasoline in 2014? Did they think about the 3.7 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent GHG that will be added to the atmosphere? Did they think about the American jobs that will be lost? No. All they would have thought about is the $9.2 billion to $15.2 billion Big Oil stands to gain if the decision is finalized. 

The RFS is absolutely vital for our future, and people need to see this attack for what it is: a paid advertisement spearheaded by Big Oil and Big Food.

Washington, D.C.

Music creators deserve the chance for fair pay

From Marilyn Bergman, Hall of Fame songwriter and former president and chairwoman of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Mark Cooper offers a misguided defense of the consent decree under which The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers operates (“Let the music play,” March 31). He ignores the stark reality that today’s songwriters and composers are increasingly struggling to make a living from their music, despite the fact that their music is listened to and enjoyed by more people, over more devices, everywhere and all the time, more than ever before.

And that is precisely because of the consent decree he defends, which was written in 1941, more than 70 years ago, in a world of 45 RPM records and AM radio. Today’s digital marketplace has brought a shift from physical copies to song streams from clouds, delivered by profit-making corporations, like Pandora, that use this consent decree with its archaic rules to force music creators to accept less than fair compensation for our work.   

Contrary to Mr. Cooper’s assertions, our market power is becoming so diminished in this environment that a living wage from music creation seems unattainable for aspiring songwriters.  

As songwriters and composers, we seek a re-examination of the decree, which was conceived before the invention of the Internet, or the iPod, or streaming music companies. It is clear that maintaining the status quo will only further disadvantage the creators of the music that is the most popular music of audiences around the world.

If creators cannot hope to make a living from their work, then listeners may increasingly find themselves with far less choice in the selection of new music available to them. It is hard to fathom that a consumer advocate could be so shortsighted as to ignore the fact that music creators and consumers are perfectly aligned here.  

The ASCAP is working with policymakers and others in the music industry to modernize the music licensing system so that it reflects how people listen to music today, so we can better serve music lovers everywhere and ensure creators are able to thrive alongside the businesses that depend on our music for their content.

We invite Mr. Cooper and the Consumer Federation of America to join us in this effort, rather than advocating for maintaining a status quo that puts the interests of for-profit corporations ahead of the livelihood of America’s music creators.


Beverly Hills, Calif.