Breaking Oil’s Hold Over America

By Tom Buis | February 22, 2012

News that Iran’s navy could stop oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz sent oil to an eight-week high in January. With Iran and a handful of other countries controlling the lion’s share of the world’s oil, any disruption in supply implies disaster for America’s still-sputtering economy.

Our nation imagines itself the most free and secure in the world, but the volatility of the global oil market shows how vulnerable we are as a nation to saber rattling by strongmen and dictators. Every president since Nixon has warned that the influence of foreign oil in our economy is threat to both our national and economic security. Yet for more than four decades, our federal government has failed to ultimately deal with the problem of our national addiction to foreign oil. In 2012, Growth Energy is reminding Congress and America that ethanol is a key to finally breaking our oil addiction and achieving energy independence. Ethanol is not a someday fuel; it is replacing foreign oil today, and if we lift the artificial hurdles blocking access to the fuels market, it can replace more.

So how do we create a level playing field for ethanol to compete with oil?

First, we must open the market to more ethanol to strip oil of its strategic status as a commodity. A full move to E15 will give consumers greater access to clean, renewable ethanol today. By expanding the market through E15, we can spur private capital investment into the development of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. With cellulosic ethanol, we can turn feedstocks such as corn stover, citrus waste and even woodchips into clean, renewable fuel.

Second, the industry needs to expand its infrastructure, in the form of flex-fuel pumps and flex-fuel vehicles, to create a market where consumers have a choice at the pump.  By encouraging auto companies to manufacture their fleets to run on higher blends of ethanol, we can reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, create green jobs that can’t be outsourced and keep more money here in the U.S, where it can support our domestic economy.

Third, Congress should maintain support for the renewable fuel standard—the only national energy policy in place today designed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by gradually increasing the use of renewables in our fuel supply. The RFS has been the single most effective policy at displacing foreign oil. Because of the stability created by the RFS, the ethanol industry supports more than 600,000 American jobs that can’t be outsourced and helps us take back some of the $300 billion a year we send to foreign economies for access to oil.

We have a plan for energy independence, and we must stick to it. The future success of the domestic ethanol industry and the key to America’s energy security depends on solid policies that create a fair market where consumers have a choice at the pump. It is imperative for our country to produce and use our own sources of renewable energy so we don’t have to rely on foreign nations as heavily. American ethanol is the only commercially viable alternative fuel that is proven to reduce harmful emissions in the air, create jobs at home and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

For 40 years, we have been at the mercy of a foreign cartel that has controlled one strategic commodity: oil. A strong commitment to policies that ensure access to clean, domestically produced alternatives like ethanol will help America break free from oil’s stranglehold.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy