In the Shoes of the Oil, Gas Industry

By Mike Bryan | June 02, 2008
Imagine for a moment that Henry Ford's plan for automobiles to run on alcohol fuels came to fruition near the turn of the 20th century. Imagine that during the past 100 years, alcohol fuels were used in every automobile produced. The ethanol industry had built a trillion-dollar infrastructure to support the distribution of the fuel, and it powered the world.

Now imagine that oil was discovered 30 years ago. It appeared to be abundant and cheap, and the gasoline produced from it fit into the distribution and retail infrastructure created by the ethanol industry. Its developers and supporters soon rallied around this new fuel and began talking about making it part of the world's energy pool. Support was growing in Congress and other political circles on a global scale. After all, it had the potential to generate billions of dollars of revenue for whichever state or country developed its oil resources.

I suspect the ethanol industry would react as the oil industry has done: with vehement opposition. We would rail against gasoline's real and perceived problems. We might even invent a few negative studies and reports about this new "oil-based gasoline" that was threatening our century-old uncontested reign in the market. At first, it was just 10 percent, and while we were opposed to giving up any market share, it became clear that the movement was strong and the trend inevitable. So the ethanol industry finally acquiesced and accepted 10 percent gasoline blends, and we profited from the financial incentives this new fuel was receiving.

Hold on a minute! Now politicians are talking about raising the percentage and mandating the use of gasoline. It's no longer a 10 percent blend; now there's talk of 20 percent or even 85 percent blends of gasoline. There is legislation being considered that would require every new vehicle to be flexible-fuel capable. This little fledgling industry has gone from being a nuisance to actually threatening our ethanol market share.

Oil refineries begin to spring up in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and dozens of other states. At first, they are small, but they quickly increase in size. The oil boys seem to have the ear of politicians, who are saying we need to find another source of energy because ethanol has nearly peaked in its production capability.

It's wrong, we say! Ethanol has been the foundation of the world's energy needs for 100 years. We can produce more; we simply need to open up the vast forest reserves of Canada. We begin to fight the opposition, even when we know the advancement of oil and gasoline is inevitable. We resist at every corner, pouring our vast financial resources into warding off the insidious forward advance of gasoline. We create stories about gasoline. It doesn't matter if it's the truth or a liethis is war! We fight on, even though we know it's a war we can't win.

Far fetched thoughts, perhaps? Just imagine for a moment what we might do if the shoe was on the other foot. While it doesn't make it right, sometimes it's good for us to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

That's the way I see it!

Mike Bryan
Publisher & CEO