Gazette editorial failed to identify petroleum industry-funded critic of ethanol


In an editorial that questioned investing in ethanol as an alternative energy source, The Gazette of Colorado Springs quoted a representative from the Energy Policy Research Foundation but failed to note that the organization is funded by dozens of oil companies.

A January 27 editorial in The Gazette of Colorado Springs critical of using ethanol as a petroleum substitute quoted a representative from the Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC) without noting that EPRINC is the latest incarnation of a long-standing oil industry advocacy group, the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation (PIRINC). PIRINC is described on its website as a tax-exempt organization "supported by approximately 35 oil companies."

According to the Gazette editorial (accessed through the newspaper's electronic edition):

"Once we have a corn-based technology up and running, the political system will protect it," Lawrence J. Goldstein, of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, told the [New York] Times. "We cannot afford to have 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol in 2015, and that's exactly where we are headed." Rather than plunge ahead, Goldstein says politicians need to "step back and reflect on the damage we have already done."

The Gazette failed to note, however, that PIRINC on February 1 is changing its name to the Energy Policy Research Foundation, as detailed in a January 3 memo. The memo stated that "[a]lthough we are changing our name to the Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC), our mission will remain the same. In recent years, our role has brought us to look at energy developments well beyond the petroleum industry, hence the name change is both timely and appropriate."

While the group's website states, "PIRINC does not speak for the [oil] industry or any of its segments," it does note that "[i]t is supported by approximately 35 oil companies ranging from major internationals to regional marketers."

Additionally, news reports have called PIRINC "an industry-financed think tank" and described the organization as a "nonprofit research institute financed by the oil industry."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.