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Luke Tonachel’s Blog

Oil Industry Attacks Analysis of Cleaner Future

Luke Tonachel

Posted October 18, 2011 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Once again the oil industry is saying ‘no’ to change. They want Americans to stay addicted to their product. Moving to cleaner, alternative fuels is a threat to their bottom line, and they won’t stand for it. Their latest attack is on a recent economic analysis of a clean fuels standard for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The oil industry says we can’t move to cleaner fuels, but we should decide for ourselves and reject the industry’s forecast for gloom and failure.

As I wrote about previously, an economic analysis conducted by NESCAUM on behalf of 11 regional states concluded that there is a huge up-side to moving off oil. Thousands of jobs could grow from new businesses, we’d have less pollution and our economic security would be strengthened by reduced dependence on the volatile oil market.

The oil industry charges that the economic analysis uses assumptions that are not based on today’s market. An IHS report funded by the oil industry’s Consumer Energy Alliance front group claims that American companies couldn’t possibly achieve the price and volumes of advanced biofuels modeled by the states. 

The oil industry misses the point. A world with a Clean Fuels Standard for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is a new future. The economic analysis of a regional Clean Fuels Standard (CFS) assumes that the policy takes us in a new direction, away from the pollution and risks of oil, and incentivizes investment and deployment of clean fuels.

The market-based CFS policy provides a long-term signal to alternative fuel entrepreneurs, giving the certainty needed to bring their products to market in larger volumes. We know electric vehicles are already starting to hit the road and cellulosic biofuels are being produced in small volumes. The CFS would provide a more even playing field in the transportation fuels market for the clean fuels.

The NESCAUM economic analysis looks at the costs and benefits of aggressively getting off oil and cutting carbon pollution. The analysis looks at multiple scenarios and puts bounds on the potential outcomes of a CFS. A CFS sets a technology-neutral requirement to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels over time. The very likely outcomes cut pollution and oil dependence while keeping more American fuel dollars in this country.

The most costly thing we can do is continue our heavy reliance on oil. The business-as-usual favored by the oil companies will line their pockets at the expense of consumers, our security, our economy and our environment.

The CFS is not the best for boosting sales of oil and that has the oil companies in full attack mode. The CFS may not be good for big oil, but it would be good for all of us that live here in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

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