Frack This

By Bob Dinneen | July 11, 2013

I've said repeatedly that we can't frack our way to energy security. Let's look at the numbers.

When the renewable fuel standard (RFS) was first passed in 2005, the U.S. was 60 percent dependent upon imported oil for our liquid transportation fuels. Today, we are just 40 percent dependent on imports. The U.S. Energy Information Administration cites “increased use of domestic biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel)” as a major driver behind the decrease in petroleum import dependence. Indeed, cumulative new ethanol production since 2005 has accounted for 62 percent of new domestically produced liquid fuels, while cumulative new U.S. crude oil production has accounted for 38 percent.

Ethanol now accounts for almost two-thirds of America’s new liquid fuel production. This clearly shows the rhetoric around fracking and oil shale extraction are overblown and America should continue to invest in what is working, ethanol. Fracking and other band aid efforts account for a little more than one-third of new domestic liquid fuel production.

But let's look closer. EIA’s report of petroleum imports includes oil and other petroleum products, i.e., gasoline. If we were to look at crude oil alone, while it has been reduced, our imports of crude oil still stand at 57 percent. The big reduction in petroleum has come from virtually eliminating our need of finished gasoline. As a finished product, ethanol has absolutely directly led to the replacement of finished petroleum product imports! 

As noted in the chart, the increase in ethanol production and the decrease in petroleum imports just support what we have been saying all along. Ethanol is helping move America towards a more stable and energy independent future.

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association
202-289-3835