Digest Editorial: Hate-mongering is not the way to sell the RFS

April 30, 2014 |

Yesterday, the pro-Renewable Fuel Standard, pro-American jobs groups Americans United for Change and VoteVets.org held a press call “to reveal IRS documents linking Saudi Aramco to the American Petroleum Institute”, and announced a “Sunday show TV blitz to help educate the public and decision makers in Washington about who is really behind the anti-RFS campaign and why: foreign oil interests that want to keep America dependent on their dirty energy product.”

The Digest abhors this appeal to the lowest form of xenophobia and, on the whole, racially-based, anti-Muslim, anti-Arabian rhetoric that will accomplish little except bringing on board the wrong kinds of supporters for renewable fuels, for the wrong reasons.

We appreciate, of course, that the American Petroleum Institute is waging war on the Renewable Fuel Standard, to their infamy and shame, by means that combine the best of the American political traditions of dialogue and the worst.

However, let’s set some facts on the table.

1. Saudi Aramco was, in fact, founded as an American company and was divested to the Saudi government gradually over the years.

2. We don’t recall any campaigns outing the American Petroleum Institute for accepting support from, say, Shell, BP, Total, Neste Oil, or Petrobras — which are also transnational, diversified energy companies. We don’t recall any campaigns tarring Canadian or Mexican companies regarding oil imports, nor European ones.

3. Membership in an organization — even active support — doesn’t equate to control of an agenda. Neste, Valero, Amyris and Gevo are also members of API – to name some of the most visible owners and developers of renewable fuel capacity.

4. It’s not exactly hot news that Saudi Refining is a member of API. It’s published on the website. And Saudi Refining’s relationship to Saudi Aramco is not a classified military secret.

If the only way that RFS leaders can think of to save the Renewable Fuel Standard is via inflammatory advertising that denigrates rather than elevates — and is based in the sort of racial coding that should have died with Nazi Germany — it’s time for new leadership.

We condemn the spirit in which these ads are being aired, with as much vigor as we support the renewable fuels industry’s vital and transformational message of energy diversification.

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