One of the most troublesome (and effective) tactics employed by the oil industry to malign ethanol’s reputation over the past several years has been their strategy of infiltrating and co-opting seemingly impartial organizations and getting those organizations to deliver Big Oil anti-ethanol talking points. The hijacked organizations generally have positive reputations and missions to “help” people, and because they have little history of being involved in this type of political debate, their motives are rarely questioned, and the misinformation they deliver is believable.
One of the more effective mudslingers Big Oil has employed – specifically in its effort to stop E15 and solidify the “blend wall” argument – has been AAA. While AAA does have political history, they are generally regarded as agnostic when it comes to things like the make of your car or the brand of fuel you buy. The public sees AAA as an organization that will help keep you safe, and that they will come and help you out if you have a problem. When AAA calls E15 “premature,” and says it could “destroy engines,” people listen. And groups like the American Petroleum Institute (API), who spoon-fed the bogus “science” and talking points to AAA, then repeats all of their own inaccurate claims, this time citing AAA as their source.
While most of us suspect there is some price that was paid to AAA for allowing API to commandeer its message for its own purposes, even finding and exposing that link won’t undo any of the damage Big Oil has done with the assistance of AAA. We need to counter that misinformation in some way. Handled properly, TMC Select could help us do that, and at the same time, provide an alternative to AAA for ethanol members and other ethanol supporters.
We need to counter AAA by having TMC Select (with 50 years of auto club experience and over 20 million members) make a statement that features all or most of these talking points:
- HELPING DRIVERS SAVE AT THE PUMP: TMC Select is looking out for drivers and wants them to save money and E15 has historically been 5 to 10 cents cheaper than E10, 35 to 40 cents less than straight gasoline. More competition for gasoline can only lead to even lower prices.
- E15 IS SAFE: TMC Select reminds drivers that E15 is becoming available in more locations, and that after examining the data and reviewing claims history in areas where E15 has been sold, TMC Select wants people to know that E15 is safe when used as indicated by EPA.
- “We have had zero service calls regarding E15, and we don’t anticipate any.”
- WARRANTY FEAR MONGERING BY OTHER AUTO GROUPS IS DISAPPOINTING: TMC Selecthas heard claims that automakers will “void the warranty” of a car if the owner uses E15, and wants drivers to know that automakers can’t “void the warranty” on a vehicle without proving something specifically created the need for the repair. To date, we are not aware of any studies in existence that show problems particular to E15, nor have we heard of any warranty repairs that have been denied due to E15 use.
- In addition, some 2012 cars and light trucks, and most of the cars and light trucks from model years 2013 and 2014 are built to use E15, and the warranty for those vehicles specifically allows for E15. Over 30 million cars on the road today are built to use ethanol blends above 10%.
- TMC Select IS HERE TO HELP:Whether you have a problem with a flat tire, your keys locked in your car, or you accidentally put diesel fuel in your gas powered car, TMC Select members can call and/or use our app to help them get back on the road. That’s what we do. We won’t waste your money lobbying for oil companies, and that’s one of the reasons our service is so much more affordable than the others out there.
TMC Select is doing their homework and separating fact from fiction. We are thankful that there is an organization out there that looks out for drivers first, by helping them save money, protecting them from unscrupulous mechanics, and not doing Big Oil’s dirty work. “We have had a lot of members contact us – many of them are longtime AAA members – who are tired of AAA’s attacks. They are looking for an alternative and we want to make sure they know there are options out there – auto clubs that put drivers ahead of misleading rhetoric. We encourage you to consider TMC Select.”
President, Travelers Motor Club