Monday, June 20, 2011
People talk a lot about "energy independence" but they usually fail to make the very important distinction between electricity and fuel. We are already energy independent in generating electricity. But that's not the case for transportation fuel because 97% of American cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes can run on nothing but petroleum, and we import a good deal of it.
The only thing that can give us energy independence is fuel choice. If most cars were flex fuel vehicles, fuel pumps everywhere would have competing fuels available, allowing us to choose, and every time someone chose something other than petroleum, it would lower the amount of oil we import until that number reaches zero. At that point, we would be energy independent for fuel as well as electricity.
Flex fuel technology already exists. We don't need to wait for any more research. The cars are already being made and work just fine. Flex fuel technology is inexpensive. According to GM, who makes most of the flex fuel cars in America, it costs $70 or less to give a car the capacity to run on ethanol, methanol, and gasoline, and any combination of them in any proportion. Ethanol and methanol can be made from a huge variety of materials from coal and natural gas to biomass and waste.
Right now there are not enough fuel pumps that deliver alternative fuels. That will change when most cars are flex fuel cars. In fact, it will only take about three years to have 30 million flex fuel cars on the road, and that's the magic number. When we reach 30 million flex fuel cars, most fuel stations will be financially justified to install an alcohol pump. Gasoline will then have serious competition. Oil companies will have to lower their prices or lose our business.
Many people think we can solve our foreign oil dependence by either drilling more or using less. Neither of these will lower the price at the pump or stop funding dangerous regimes. When we produce more oil, OPEC produces less, thus keeping the price high. When we use less, OPEC also responds by producing less, keeping prices high.
They can do this because of their monopoly. What will break up the monopoly is competition.
OPEC's manipulation of oil prices has made our trade deficit much worse, has helped to fund terrorist organizations, and helps keep America-hating regimes in power.
Electric cars may be a very important contributor to our continued fuel independence in the long run, but flex fuel vehicles can be done today on a massive scale with almost no money. It is not an either-or proposition. While we're working on making electric cars more affordable, we can achieve complete energy independence. And then we can have plug-in hybrid flex fuel cars and look in the rear view mirror to see OPEC eating our dust.
An estimated $100 billion of the U.S. defense budget is related to oil. The American military protects oil shipping lanes, protects the oil-producing countries, and fights to defend the U.S. and its allies from terrorist groups funded by oil money.
By becoming energy independent, the U.S. will be in a much less vulnerable position when dealing with foreign countries. We must each urge our representatives to pass the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 and bring about true and total energy independence. Click here to contact your representative now.