Sunday, March 4, 2012
We are writing you in support of the bipartisan Open Fuels Standard amendment (S.A. 1657) to the pending transportation bill. By ensuring new cars are open to fuel competition from some subset of non-petroleum fuels (including liquid, gaseous, or electricity) we believe the Open Fuels Standard is the simplest, least-cost approach for reducing the strategic importance of oil and the corresponding liability of gasoline price spikes that wreak havoc on our economy and American family budgets.
There is a widespread consensus on these facts:
• Competition is a bedrock of our American way of life, but oil has a virtual monopoly over transportation fuel. Ninety-seven percent of the fuel used to transport people and goods in the United States is based on petroleum.
• When the price of a barrel of oil reaches $100, America sends $400 billion per year overseas for oil, with too much of that money ending up in the hands of oligarchs, autocrats, dictators, and sometimes even terrorists.
• For an additional $100 or less, automakers can build vehicles that break the monopoly of oil, yet relatively few of these "flex fuel" cars that can run on multiple fuels are being made for the domestic market.
• America is rich in a variety of energy commodities and other feedstocks that can be converted into fuels that are considerably less expensive than petroleum.
• Empowering Americans to arbitrage among fuels based on the comparative cost per mile will dampen the price of oil. For these reasons we believe our nation must introduce competition into our transportation fuel marketplace.
The Open Fuels Standard is technology and fuel-neutral, does not require any new tax breaks or subsidies, and enjoys strong support across the entire political spectrum as reflected by the diverse group of cosponsors for the companion bill in the House, H.R. 1687. Consider the case of natural gas. Unlike oil prices, which are expected to continue to rise significantly, the price of natural gas has been on the decline for many months. Its price is so low that some producers are reconsidering investments and shutting in production wells in this job creating sector. Among other available and promising options, the Open Fuels Standard would open the door to methanol, a liquid fuel that can run in flexible fuel vehicles. A recent MIT report, The Future of Natural Gas, determined that methanol “is the liquid fuel that is most efficiently and inexpensively produced from natural gas.” Methanol can also be made from coal, biomass, or municipal solid waste, and perhaps in the future recycled carbon dioxide, and is significantly less costly than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis.
We urge you to consider adopting the Open Fuels Standard Amendment in the upcoming transportation bill. We cannot think of any Act of Congress that would have a more lasting impact on America’s energy security.