July: Fuel Freedom Month

By Bob Dinneen | June 03, 2009
In the sweltering heat of a Philadelphia summer 233 years ago, a select group of men set out to redefine the course of history. In declaring independence from Great Britain, these colonists recognized that there comes a time when bold and determined action is needed to chart a new course, despite the challenges in doing so.

While the energy challenges facing this country are not as monumental as the creation of a new country free from the rule of the world's then-greatest power, the reaction to these challenges by the current generation of Americans could be no less revolutionary.

The cost born by Americans for our reliance on imported sources of energy is well documented. Hundreds of billions of dollars flow out of this country each year to governments that are far too often at odds with our own. Billions of additional dollars are spent to protect this flow of energy. Occasionally, lives are put in harm's way.

Like the colonists' struggle against taxation without representation, this does not have to be the scenario.

Those familiar with America's ethanol industry are well aware of the statistics: 9.2 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2009; 321 million barrels of imported oil displaced as a result; $16 billion prevented from being sent overseas; and so on.

While impressive in their own right, when put into greater context these numbers tell an important story. The 321 million barrels of imported oil displaced by domestic ethanol production is the equivalent to 10 months supply of oil from Venezuela. Or, such a volume represents more than 33 days of total imports from all countries. That is an entire month that America can say "thanks, but no thanks" to oil-rich nations and despots across the globe.

It is based on this fact that we celebrate this July as Fuel Freedom Month. As we contemplate the unparalleled consequences of the actions taken in Philadelphia, we must also take stock of the challenges we face as a nation today and our collective ability to meet those challenges as our forefathers did.

Perhaps the greatest showman and promoter in American history, P.T. Barnum once said of independence, "Those who really desire to attain an independence have only set to their minds upon it and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done."

America's ethanol producers have their minds set. Each day brings about revolutionary new means to accomplish our goals. And, with consistent public policy and a commitment to finish what we have begun, ethanol can help lead America to energy independence.

Happy Independence Day!

Bob Dinneen
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association