Two More Co-Sponsors

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Representative from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Representative from New York, Bob Turner have both just signed on as co-sponsors for the Open Fuel Standard Act.

If one of these are your representative, please give them a heartfelt thank you.

If your representative hasn't yet become a co-sponsor, click here to find out how you can help make it happen.

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How to Reduce Our National Debt, Create Jobs, and Strengthen Our National Security

Monday, December 5, 2011

In January 2007 the National Defense Council Foundation (NDCF) calculated that the United States lost $117 billion in economic activity due to the cost of oil imports in 2006. It also reported that the cost of military expenditures related to securing foreign oil supplies was $137 billion in the same year.

NDCF estimated that as of 2007, U.S. dependence on foreign oil cost Americans 2,241,000 jobs. It concluded, “the total of all oil-related external or “hidden” costs [amounted to] $825 billion per year,” noting that these hidden costs equated to raising the cost of a gallon of gasoline to approximately $10.73.

If you find the thought of paying $4/gallon every time you fill up your vehicle distasteful, consider next time you’re standing at the pump that you may actually be paying something closer to $10/gallon. Now consider all of the out-of-work family members and friends you know who are affected by these hidden costs.

Financial hardship is a reality that many Americans are now experiencing firsthand. In contrast, national security concerns are far removed from the experience of most.

While Americans may feel an obligation to thank our troops for their service, how many clearly understand that since 2003 nearly 4,500 of them have been killed in a war to secure the world’s energy supplies from falling under the control of a ruthless dictator?

The Iraq War is the bloodiest episode of our nation’s involvement in the Middle East but it is by no means an anomaly. The history of U.S. interventions in the region, overt and covert, can be traced back at least 60 years. Energy security is the central concern around which U.S. Middle East policy revolves. And our history in that part of the world shapes our current relations with countries such as Iran, whose government appears to be playing the same deceptive game with WMD programs that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Although there is no overnight solution to these problems, Congress has the opportunity to address them over time by acting now. The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 is designed to strengthen our economy and national security by ending the oil industry’s monopoly over the transportation fuels market and stimulating investment in renewable fuels.

Ending that monopoly will save Americans money at the pump by allowing them to fill their vehicles with a variety of fuels that will have to compete with each other. Competition will create downward pressure on fuel prices and commodities transported across the country, including the food we purchase in our local supermarkets. It may also save American lives by reducing our dependence on one of the most dangerous parts of the world to meet our energy needs.

If you’re demoralized by the state of our economy and national security and want to be part of the solution, tell your elected representatives to co-sponsor the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011. Your country needs you to make your voice heard.

Thomas J. Buonomo is an Energy Policy Advocate for the Open Fuel Standard Coalition. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has spent the past six years researching U.S. energy policy toward the Middle East.

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Methanol Wins An Open Wager

Thursday, December 1, 2011

By Dr. Robert Zubrin (originally published in the National Review Online here).

2007 Chevy Cobalt
On August 2, I published an open wager on National Review Online. I offered to bet up to ten people $10,000 each that I could take my 2007 Chevy Cobalt, which is not a flex-fuel car, and, running it on 100 percent methanol, get at least 24 miles per gallon on the highway. Since methanol averages less than half the price of gasoline — and can readily be made from coal, natural gas, or any kind of biomass without exception — this would demonstrate superior transportation economy from a non-petroleum fuel that is producible from plentiful American resources.

Unfortunately, no one took the bet. That fact alone says a lot. Of the 7 billion people on this planet, there are about a million or so who know a great deal about cars. Clearly, not one of them was sufficiently doubtful that it could be done to put his money on the line. Although it left me short a nice chunk of easy cash, the refusal of anyone to accept my challenge should have settled the matter. But some people, while refusing to take the bet, still demanded that I conduct the test anyway. I did, and here are the results.

First, I ran the car on 100 percent methanol. This required replacing the fuel-pump seal made of Viton, which is not methanol compatible, with one made of Buna-N, which is. The new part cost 41 cents, retail. In order to take proper advantage of methanol’s very high octane rating (about 109), I advanced the timing appropriately. This dramatically improved the motor efficiency and allowed the ordinarily sedate sedan to perform with a significantly more sporty spirit. As measured on the dyno, horsepower increased 10 percent. With these modifications complete, I took my Cobalt out for a road test. The result: 24.6 miles per gallon.

When I first made the bet, many commentators thought that I would aim for high-efficiency performance with high-octane fuel by increasing the compression ratio of the engine (which is how race-car drivers using methanol have done it for the past half-century). However, with modern cars using electronic fuel injection, this is unnecessary. Instead, the necessary changes to the engine can be made simply by adjusting the Engine Control Unit software. Thus, except for switching the fuel-pump seal as noted above, no physical changes to the car were required.

Other critics commented that while I might be able to achieve good fuel economy, the idea was impractical because the emissions would not be acceptable. In response, I had the car tested for emissions with 100 percent methanol (M100), 60 percent methanol (M60), and ordinary gasoline (i.e., E10, which contains about 10 percent ethanol), and for comparison, did mileage tests for these alternatives as well. The results of all these tests are shown in the table below.


It can be seen that, far from failing to meet emissions standards, the Cobalt running on methanol was extremely clean, beating both the strict Colorado emissions standards and the national EPA averages by an order of magnitude. The complete elimination of carbon-monoxide emissions when using M60 is particularly remarkable — so much so that I initially thought it was an experimental error caused by faulty equipment at the emissions test station. I tested it again at a different station and got the same result.

Returning to the subject of fuel economy, this can be evaluated by dividing the miles per gallon by the pre-tax spot price of the fuels in question in order to obtain the pre-tax miles per dollar shown in the table above. It can be seen that when methanol is used, fuel-economy improvements of 40 percent can be achieved. (The spot price shown in the table is the New York Harbor spot price of gasoline and the non-discounted Methanex spot price, both averaged over the past year.)

These results should not be too surprising. Methanol contains about half the energy content of gasoline, but its high octane allows it to be burned more efficiently, and thus obtain two-thirds of the mileage. The fact that the Cobalt could easily be made to use it should be no shock either: While not a flex-fuel car, the Cobalt uses the same E-37 computer and the same engine as GM’s HHR, which is a flex-fuel car. In fact, all GM cars sold in the U.S. for the past five years use either the E-37 (for small cars) or the equally flex-fuel-capable E-38 (for larger cars), and so all are capable of flex-fuel operation provided they are programmed correctly. The same is true at Ford, whose cars, whether flex-fuel or not, indiscriminately use the same “black oak,” “green oak,” or “silver oak” computers. Without question, the same must be the case for European and Japanese cars as well, since all are sold in Brazil, where flex-fuel capability is mandatory.

There was a time when adding flex-fuel capability to an automobile increased its cost by about $100. This is no longer true. Now almost all new cars already have flex-fuel hardware, and could easily be marketed as flex-fuel vehicles. Yet the automakers have failed to do so. This is an extraordinary disservice to the nation, because it is preventing us from meeting our fuel needs using our own resources. The United States has only about 4 billion tons of oil reserves, but over 270 billion tons of coal, unknowably vast supplies of natural gas, and by far the world’s most powerful agricultural sector — all of which could be used to produce methanol. Yet instead of being able to put these assets effectively to use to meet our transportation needs, we are being forced to buy 5 billion barrels per year of imported oil. At $100 per barrel, this is costing us $500 billion per year, a deduction from our GDP equal to that required to support 5 million jobs, at $100,000 annually per job.

The Open Fuel Standard bill (H.R. 1687) would remedy this situation by requiring automakers to activate the flex-fuel capabilities of their vehicles. This would open the market to fuels producible from plentiful domestic resources not under cartel control, free us from looting by OPEC, create millions of jobs, slash our deficit, reduce the flow of income to the Islamists, and cushion us from counter-effects should forceful action be required to deal with threats such as the Iranian nuclear-bomb program. Introduced by Reps. John Shimkus (R., Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), its current bipartisan list of sponsors includes liberals such as Jim McDermott (D., Wash.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Steve Israel (D., N.Y.), and Howard Berman (D., Calif.) to conservatives Dan Burton (R., Ind.), Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md.), Tom Cole (R., Okla.), and Allen West (R., Fla.), as well as many in between. It is a bill clearly in the national interest, and should be supported by everyone from left to right.

By eliminating the artificial incompatibility between the vehicles we drive and the fuels we can make ourselves, the Open Fuel Standard bill will unchain the Invisible Hand, creating a true free market in vehicle fuels. Those reluctant to embrace it need to answer the following questions: In whose interest is it that Americans should continue to be denied fuel choice? In whose interest is it that America’s vast natural-gas, coal, and biomass resources remain unusable as a source of liquid vehicle fuel? In whose interest is it that America continue to give hundreds of billions of dollars each year to foreign potentates bent upon our destruction, instead of paying our own people to make fuel out of our own resources? In whose interest is it that a foreign cartel retains unlimited power to raise the cost of our fuel? In whose interest is it that we remain in the power of our enemies? Finally, should their interests be allowed to prevail, or should ours?

The fault, dear reader, is not in our cars, but in ourselves, that we are tributaries. We can set ourselves free, but action is required.

— Dr. Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a member of the Steering Committee of Americans for Energy, and author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. His next book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudoscientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, will be published by Encounter Books in February.

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How to Break OPEC

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The following was written by Kevin D'Arcy. Reprinted with permission.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has stated that his goal is to boost gasoline prices to "European levels." Chu's logic is that high prices will cause us to conserve and force us to choose "alternative" fuels. But the amounts we can save through conservation are so minimal that at best we can only slow down the increasing demand as worldwide population and industrialization grows. But the greater fallacy of Chu's logic is the notion that European level prices will cause us to use alternative fuels. What alternative fuels might those be? Can you fill your Ford with solar energy? Can you drive that Volvo under wind power? How many geothermal miles do you get per tankful in your Toyota? The fact is that oil maintains a vertical monopoly on transportation fuels. Ninety-seven percent of the fuel used to transport people and goods in the United States is petroleum based; consumers have no choice in the matter. Big Oil is very happy about that and OPEC is absolutely depending upon it.

Three popular solutions to our oil dependency have been advocated. T. Boone Pickens urges America to convert its transportation fleet to natural gas — at the cost of tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies. And the expensive Pickens scheme would only swap one straight jacket for another since the vehicles would again operate on a single fuel which America does not possess in long-term abundance.

Another popular answer is "Drill, baby, drill." Increasing domestic production is desirable because it means buying less from foreign sources. But the U.S. produces less than 2% of the world's oil. If we increased our production by 10% a simultaneous decrease of less than 1% by OPEC would keep the world supply unchanged, and prices steady. But OPEC would not even need to cut production because rising worldwide demand would quickly swamp America's increase. "Drill, drill, drill" cannot by itself break OPEC and won't decrease prices in the long run.

Others have proposed a new Manhattan Project to rid us of our "oil addiction." But that idea has floundered because the problem appears so overwhelmingly complicated, and possible solutions so expensive.

The good news is that there is no need for such costly, ineffective, and grandiose schemes; we can rid ourselves of our straight jacket by employing current technology at very little cost. An inexpensive microchip and sensor has been developed that permits car engines to combust any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels, from 100% gasoline to 100% alcohol or any mixture in between. For an additional $100 or less automakers can build vehicles that break the monopoly of oil and open the transportation fuel market to genuine competition. But relatively few of these "flex fuel" cars are being made for the domestic market because America is in a Catch 22 situation. Consumers don't demand flex fuel cars because filling stations sell only gasoline and diesel. And filling stations don't offer alcohol fuels because most cars can't operate on them. If we solve the chicken-and-egg conundrum by mandating that most of the cars sold in America are flex fuel vehicles (the Open Fuel Standard) a market will be created for alcohol fuels. Producers will supply that market, and consumers will finally have a genuine choice.

Most of us Tea Party folks are economic libertarians who have a well-founded animus toward government regulation. Our knee-jerk reaction to the flex fuel mandate is, "Stay out of it and let the free market handle it." That response would be perfectly sound if the transportation fuel market was truly "free." But free markets work only when there is competition; without it the "invisible hand" becomes a strong-arm tactic. OPEC is a strong cartel and oil maintains a vertical monopoly on transportation fuels. When the price of oil spikes we must buy it anyway. Demand is extremely inelastic because we have no alternative to oil. When the price of orange juice spikes we can substitute something else or simply go without it. When the price of beef is too high, we can buy other meats or even pasta, rice, etc. Lack of choice in the transportation fuel market leaves us hostage to OPEC and Big Oil. The federal government has a duty to break such monopolies and foster competition. But once it has created a competitive market the government must eliminate subsidies, get out of the way, and let freedom and the profit motive do the rest.

So, how do we know this Open Fuel Standard Act [OFSA] will work? We know it will work because it has already been done. Brazil began selling flex fuel vehicles in 2003 and has reduced its oil imports from 80% to 0% by substituting sugar cane ethanol. Naysayers claim this plan can only work in Brazil because it has an ideal climate for sugar cane and plenty of arable land. But only 1% of Brazil's arable land is used for ethanol sugar cane, and every country has its unique resources and its own advantages. America cannot grow much sugar cane, but we have other amazing options in abundance.

Currently, most of America's alcohol fuel comes from corn ethanol. But not all ethanol comes from corn and not all alcohol fuels are ethanol. The beauty of flex fuel cars is that they operate on any alcohol from any source. Enterprising entrepreneurs can make ethanol (ethyl alcohol) from sugar beats, switchgrass, potatoes, and a myriad of other crops. But we can also make methanol (methyl alcohol) from numerous carbon sources including garbage, natural gas, and coal. America has enough coal to fuel us for centuries, and we cannot even imagine the new processes and technologies that will emerge to produce alcohols cheaply and sustainably. Even without the tremendous market incentive that will come with flex fuel cars, scientists and entrepreneurs are already experimenting with ways to make ethanol rapidly and economically from algae. Brazilian sugar cane yields 700 gallons of ethanol per acre. The potential yield from algae is an incredible 5000 gallons per acre, and algae can be grown almost anywhere, including in sea water and in deserts. Never underestimate Yankee ingenuity.

We can produce methanol from coal for about $1.00 per gallon. Since methanol contains half the energy of gasoline, that price is equivalent to about $2.00 per gallon of gas. With economies of scale, new and more efficient methods, innovative technologies and dynamic competition, prices would be reduced further, but even at the current price methanol is an attractive option. And methanol would be produced in America and would generate jobs and profits in America. Even the environmentalists will be on our side because ethanol has a Tom Thumb-sized carbon footprint compared to the T. Rex-sized footprint of 'dinofuel.' And in a tremendous bit of serendipity, methanol can be made directly from CO2 itself. Believers in man-made global warming should be ecstatic.

Until we create the market for them, these alternative fuels will remain insignificant. But as the entire industrialized and "emerging" world converts to flex fuel vehicles (and the world will follow America's lead) oil will become just another commodity like orange juice or beef. Under such circumstances Big Oil would be no more powerful than Big Breakfast Cereal or Big Textile. And OPEC would be broken. Imagine being able to say, "Hey, King Abdulla, President Hugo, and Colonel Muammar, we don't need you any longer. We kicked our addiction, now go take a hike." OPEC lives in fear of that.

America spends about 600 billion dollars per year on foreign oil, and this year OPEC revenues will exceed 1 trillion dollars. We have become so jaded by TARP, Quantitative Easing, and Bush and Obama funny-money that one trillion no longer staggers us. But keep this in mind: 600 billion dollars is equal to one half of the yearly U.S. after-tax corporate profits. Every year we give the equivalent of 50% of U.S. corporate profits to foreigners in exchange for oil. Much of that money ends up in the hands of oligarchs, autocrats, and dictators. It also funds Wahhabi extremist schools in the Muslim world and trains and equips anti-Western terrorist groups. When we break OPEC and lower the price of oil we will put dictators and terrorists on a starvation diet, and do so without sending a single bomb or soldier "over there." Our unhealthy obsession with Mid East politics would end and we could focus on our true national interests. And that 600 billion dollars that we keep at home could be the basis for a long-lasting economic recovery, provided we keep the heavy hand of government out of the development process.

Breaking OPEC and ending the oil monopoly should be a national priority because it is easy to do and the results could be astonishing. In 2008 presidential nominee Barack Obama indicated he favored the OFSA yet he has done nothing to help pass it. President Obama certainly has no qualms about intervening in the auto industry. Not only has he made himself the virtual CEO of Government Motors, he has imposed fuel efficiency regulations which will increase the average cost of a car by $1300 while improving fuel economy by a meager 10 m.p.g. in 8 years. That 10 m.p.g. savings will be subsumed almost immediately by increasing worldwide demand. President Obama also spent 3 billion dollars on the feckless Cash For Clunkers program. That squandered 3 billion dollars could have put 30 million flex fuel vehicles on our highways, giving us a quick start down the road to energy independence. Obama and both parties in Congress have ignored the flex fuel option in favor of costly and non-effective programs. We can't prove motive but Big Oil has plenty of money and influence in Washington and Big Oil does not like the OFSA.

If we are ever going to break the oil monopoly it will take prodding by millions of voters to get it done. The Tea Party must make the OFSA a priority since it will further our goals of strengthening America economically and strategically. Ask your local representative to sponsor H.R. 1687, The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011. Here is a convenient link to do just that. For more information about the OFSA visit setamericafree.org.

America faces many problems for which there are no easy and politically viable solutions. But here is one major pain in our rears and pocketbooks that can be alleviated easily, quickly, and without controversy. We have been complacent for too long; let's act like Americans. Let's get smart, and let's get busy.

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Tom Ridge Joins the United States Energy Security Council

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Governor Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security, has joined the United States Energy Security Council (UNESC), a strong supporter of the Open Fuel Standard Act.

Ridge joins Alan Greenspan, Robert McFarlane, James Woolsey, and many other distinguished members of this important council (see the full membership roster here). Their main goal is to reduce oil's strategic status and thus ensure America's economic vitality and national security by introducing competition in the transportation fuel market.

Read more about the UNESC.

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Highest Gas Prices in the History of Thanksgiving

Monday, November 21, 2011

Without competition, gas prices will keep climbing. The following is excerpted from a recent USA Today article:

Motorists will probably pay record-high gasoline prices for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Regular gas is likely to average $3.37 a gallon next week — up a whopping 51 cents over last Thanksgiving, according to price tracker GasBuddy.com. Adjusting for inflation, that's about 1 cent higher than 2007's previous holiday high of $3.08.

Gas prices are expected to be the highest ever for a Thanksgiving weekend.

Do you want to end OPEC's hijacking of our economy? The Open Fuel Standard Act is the answer we've been seeking. Let's make it happen.

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High Gas Prices Squeezing Americans

Saturday, November 19, 2011

From an article in USA Today: Americans are increasingly hurt by high gas prices, because many lack options that would enable them to reduce the costs of driving, a report today says...

Consumers are no longer responding to price increases as they did in the late 1970s, when many drove less and bought more fuel-efficient cars, says author Skip Laitner, who analyzed U.S. government data. When prices hit $4 in 2008, he says, demand for gas fell only 3%.

Middle-class workers simply don't have alternatives, says Laitner, an economist at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. He says many moved to distant suburbs when gas prices were lower and can't afford now to move, buy a more efficient car or switch jobs. Also, he says many lack access to public transportation...

Lisa Margonelli, the foundation's director of energy policy. Her team surveyed a representative sample of 2,000 Americans...She says the average family of four now spends more on driving than on health insurance or taxes.

We don't have to keep on like this. We can strip oil of its strategic status. The Open Fuel Standard is the most important first step. If you want to help, start here.

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Three More Co-Sponsors!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Open Fuel Standard Act has gained three more co-sponsors this week — Madeleine Bordallo [D-GU], John Barrow [D-GA12], and Clifford Stearns [R-FL6].

If any of them are your representative, please give them a hearty thank you.

And if your representative or senators are not on board yet, please make sure they understand the eleven good reasons the Open Fuel Standard is good for America. The best way to reach your congress members is through their staff member responsible for the issue (learn more about that here).

Read tips for being an effective grassroots advocate to learn more about how to effectively influence your representatives. Let's use this momentum and finish the job.

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Congressman Allen West Has Co-Sponsored the Open Fuel Standard Act!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The courageous, straight-talking Republican from Florida has co-sponsored the Open Fuel Standard Act. If anyone understands the threat to our national security posed by our continued funding of Wahhabism, it is Congressman Allen West. His understanding of radical Islam is unsurpassed among elected officials.

He understands fully that it is the tremendous wealth of the Saudis that allow them to fund and therefore control ninety percent of the Islamic institutions of the world, to build thousands of mosques, to build madrasses that provide free daily meals to poor Muslim boys so they'll attend and then teach them to hate non-Muslims, to invest in news outlets that promote hatred against the United States, to financially support terrorist training centers, and to pay for the financial support of the families of suicide bombers.

Congressman Allen West fully understands that the Wahhabis are able to do all this because of the tremendous amount of money we give them because so far we have been unwilling to break their monopoly on the transportation sector. And he sees that the Open Fuel Standard would effectively end oil's monopoly and greatly weaken OPEC's power over America's economy and the Wahhabis' influence over the Islamic world.

If Congressman Allen West is your representative, please give him an enthusiastic thank you. And if you know any fans of Rep. West, please let them know he has signed on as a co-sponsor of one of the most important bills to be introduced into the House: The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011.

Join Rep. West on Facebook here.

Join him on Twitter here.

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Legislative Action Alert from ACT! for America

Friday, November 4, 2011

The grassroots national security organization, ACT! for America, sent out a recent message about the Open Fuel Standard legislation. Here is the message they sent to their subscribers:

BRIGITTE GABRIEL CAPTIVATES CAPITOL HILL: EDUCATES ABOUT OPEC’S CHOKEHOLD ON OIL AND TERROR FINANCING

Last week, ACT! for America President, Brigitte Gabriel, and Director of Government Relations, Lisa Piraneo, were up on Capitol Hill for various meetings and events designed to educate our federal legislators about the connection between OPEC’s price fixing of world oil prices and how that threatens our national security.

In addition to a full day’s worth of meetings with Members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle, Brigitte participated in an important roundtable discussion about this issue for Hill staff, as well as a press conference with Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), sponsors of H.R. 1687, the Open Fuel Standard Act.


NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace and President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane, joined Brigitte and Lisa during their day on the Hill. In each of the meetings, Brigitte’s passionate words about the connection between OPEC’s manipulation of the world’s oil market pricing — and its ties to terror financing — captivated the Members of Congress and their staff.

In particular, Brigitte and coalition members spoke with Members of Congress about support for the Open Fuel Standard (OFS) Act (H.R. 1687 in the House and S. 1603 in the Senate) as a commonsense first step in breaking OPEC’s chokehold on oil prices.

Immediate progress has come out of these meetings. Already, one Member of Congress who was a part of the OFS meetings last week — Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN/5th) has “seen the light” and signed on to the legislation as a cosponsor. He joins the growing group of Congressional cosponsors this vital legislation has already attracted.

Contrary to what some believe, Canada does not supply the largest share of America’s imported oil. OPEC does. Even if we could purchase largely from our own domestic supplies and our northern neighbor, it will not destroy OPEC’s monopoly on the worldwide price of oil, nor will it decrease the terrorism that is funded through OPEC oil funds.

Why? Oil is fungible. Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution, such as crude oil, wheat, precious metals or currencies. For example, if someone lends another person a $10 bill, it does not matter if they are given back the same $10 bill or a different one since currency is fungible. If someone lends another person their car, however, they would not expect to be given back a different car, even of the same make and model, as cars are not fungible.

As long as OPEC controls enough of the worldwide oil market (and they certainly do), when they want the price to rise, they simply cut back slightly on their supply. Only a 2-3% drop in supply will typically create a dramatic rise in price.

Therefore, even if the U.S. and Canadian markets are able to generate a 10 to 15% increase in the overall supply of world oil, OPEC would simply cut back their portion of the supply accordingly for a net zero result in order to maintain the level of current pricing.

The fact is domestic oil suppliers have shown little stomach for increasing supply. Why? They like the prices OPEC’s strategy generates! This is why Governor Palin had to file suit in Alaska just to get movement on additional drilling and production. U.S. oil companies have a tendency for sitting on inventory, especially if it is likely that future pricing will be higher.

The only factor that will fundamentally reduce the price of oil is the wholesale introduction of other competing transportation fuels. This alone will finally force OPEC to its knees — and deliver a massive blow to worldwide Islamic terrorism.

To be clear, this is not about supporting ethanol, methanol, or any other specific alternative transportation fuel source. The beauty of the OFS Act is that it doesn’t support ONE particular transportation fuel — it only opens up the market to competition and finally allows the AMERICAN CONSUMER to choose from a variety of fuels for their cars and trucks. Additionally, there are no subsidies tied to the OFS legislation and there is absolutely NO COST to the Federal Government/taxpayers. New cars would cost approximately $100 more for the alcohol fuel capability, but the resulting projected fuel cost savings would be approximately $1,000 per year per car!

***ACTION ITEM***

Please do your part today to break OPEC’s chokehold on the price of oil — and their funding of terrorism. Contact your Members of Congress through our Capwiz site and ask that they cosponsor this important legislation. We’ve made it easy to do by pre-writing the correspondence. Click HERE to reach our Capwiz site and click on the two Open Fuel Standard Act alerts (one for Representatives and one for Senators) to send your message to the Hill today.

With your support, in as little as seven years we can make our nation and our world safer for our children and our grandchildren by taking the teeth out of OPEC and providing Americans a CHOICE when they fuel their vehicles. Brazil has already reached this point. We can be next. But Congress won’t act unless they hear from you.

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The Open Fuel Standard Act Gains an Important New Sponsor

Friday, October 28, 2011

Congressman Dan Burton
Coinciding with Tuesday's event, Congressman Dan Burton, a very senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, became our newest co-sponsor. Danny "Dan" Lee Burton is the U.S. Representative for Indiana's 5th congressional district, and previously the 6th district, serving since 1983. He is a member of the Republican Party.

The Energy Security Roundtable and Press Conference Tuesday was a big success, and the momentum is building. Take a look at what's being said about OFS since Tuesday:

10-24-11 The Hill: Overnight Energy
10-25-11, Michigan Farmer - Coalition Presents Roundtable Discussion in Continued Push for Open Fuel Standard
10-25-11, BiofuelsDigest - Open Fuel Standard Coalition Forms
10-25-11 Rep. Engel’s Press Release
10-25-11 All AG All Day
10-25-11 Farm Futures
10-26-11, Ethanol Producer Magazine - Open Fuel Standard Backed by Big Name Supporters
10-26-11, DomesticFuel - Ag Secretary Wants Biofuels Support in Farm Bill

If your representative or senators have not yet become co-sponsors, now is the time to urge them to do something that can help the American economy recover and reduce our dependence on foreign oil without costing taxpayers a cent. Get them to understand why this bill is urgent.

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CONGRESSMEN ENGEL & SHIMKUS, KENNY WALLACE AND ROBERT MCFARLANE DISCUSS OPEN FUEL STANDARD

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Washington, DC — Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) and John Shimkus (R-IL-19) joined with members of the Open Fuel Coalition on Tuesday afternoon to present an Energy Security Roundtable. Afterwards, the two lawmakers, along with NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace and former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, outlined their support for the Open Fuel Standard Act (HR 1687). Also joining the Congressmen at the event were representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association, the Methanol Institute and ACT! For America.

Rep. Shimkus said, “Consumers should have a choice when they pull up to a refueling station. Why are we currently limited to petroleum gasoline? At a minimal cost, vehicles could be able to accept multiple fuels with consumers choosing based on price or even feedstock for the fuel.”

Rep. Engel said, “Dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges that our nation has ever faced — our national security and our econom­y depend on breaking free of it. By employing the Open Fuel Standard, we can create competition for petroleum on the open market with other types of fuel. We don’t have to wait for the perfect technology. We can turn this around right now, at little to no cost, and create a safer and more prosperous America.”

The Open Fuel Standard Act is a bill before the U.S. Congress that would promote fuel competition in the U.S. transportation sector for the first time, reducing the number of cars on the road that can operate solely on gasoline made from oil. With implications for national security, economic welfare, and impact on health and the environment, the bipartisan Open Fuel Standard Act creates an effective way forward with no cost to the government. The Coalition represents allied trade associations including the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the Methanol Institute, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, The U.S. Energy Security Council, ACT! For America, and others.

Wallace said, “Ethanol is a high performance fuel that is clean burning. It's safe, we use it in NASCAR and there is no reason we cannot use more of it in our vehicles.”

McFarlane said, “National security has several fronts. Our reliance on a cartel to determine oil supplies and prices is not in our national interest.”

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Could Alternative Fuels Compete in a Free Market? Let’s Eliminate the Barriers and Find Out

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nicolas Loris at the Heritage Foundation wrote back in June that an open fuel standard for vehicles would “inevitably end up hurting consumers”, claiming, “The reason there are not more cars running on batteries, natural gas, methane, or other alternative fuels is the result of competition, not the absence of it.”

Do advocates of an open fuel standard want a “rigged marketplace in which they, rather than competition, dictate the outcomes”?

These claims strike this writer as disingenuous. Investors will not risk their capital on a product unless they are confident that there will be a market for it. One obvious barrier to investment in alternative fuels is an automotive market that can only run on gasoline.

The Open Fuel Standard Act offers an excellent test of Mr. Loris’s hypothesis: that “competition, not the absence of it” inhibits investment in alternative fuels. Moreover, it would test this hypothesis with negligible costs and potentially tremendous benefits to our economy, national security and environment if passed.

The Heritage Foundation should express its support for the bill on the basis of its experimental and educational value. If the Open Fuel Standard Act does not accomplish its intended purpose, we will have lost nothing and the Heritage Foundation will have taught the public a valuable lesson in economics. If the bill does accomplish its intended purpose, its patrons will have done our country a great service by accelerating our transition away from dependence on one of the most politically unstable and hostile regions of the world. It is time that we do something to alleviate sixty years of mutually antagonistic relations driven in large part by our own energy security concerns.

Thomas J. Buonomo is an Energy Policy Advocate for the Open Fuel Standard Coalition. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has spent the past six years researching U.S. energy policy toward the Middle East.

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Congressmen Shimkus and Engel, Kenny Wallace Talk Open Fuel Standard Tuesday

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rep. Shimkus (center), June conference.
On Tuesday, October 25, members of the Open Fuel Coalition will present an Energy Security Roundtable. Afterwards, Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19), Congressman Eliot Engel (D, New York-17), NASCAR Driver Kenny Wallace, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and others will participate in a news conference supporting the Open Fuel Standard Act (HR 1687).

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Energy Security Roundtable
2218 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC
The roundtable is open to Congressional staff, media, and other interested parties.

Participants will include NASCAR Driver Kenny Wallace, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association Bob Dinneen, Executive Director of the Methanol Institute Greg Dolan, and President and CEO of ACT! for America Brigitte Gabriel.

3:15 p.m. News Conference
2218 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC

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Open Fuel Standard Event Next Week

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Tuesday, October 25th, in Washington, D.C. is a roundtable and press event for the Open Fuel Standard Act. You're invited. And we urge you to ask your representative to (at least) send one of their staff members to attend. This is an important, informative hour and a half event that none of our leaders should miss. (Contact information for your Members can be found here and here.)

The event has two parts: A one hour roundtable moderated by Anne Korin, and a half hour press event with Representatives John Shimkus and Eliot Engel.

The roundtable will have several guests for the panel discussion, including Robert McFarlane, Brigitte Gabriel, Bob Dinneen, and Greg Dolan. A special guest — NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace — will also be speaking.

Read, download, or print a flyer for the event here: OFS Roundtable and Press Event Flyer. Get these to anyone you know in the D.C. area, including all the Hill Members who will listen to you.

To RSVP the event or find out more, contact Representative Shimkus' Legislative Director Grant Culp at grant.culp@mail.house.gov.

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Looking For Job Killers? Look at Gas Prices, Study Suggests

According to Consumer Affairs:

The oil price spike of the past year, which saw gasoline prices increase by over $1 from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011, will drive household expenditures on gasoline to a record average of $2,900 this year, according to a study by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

Crude oil is about $30 higher than costs or historic trends justify, CFA found, generating needlessly high prices for petroleum products that will drain about $200 billion out of the economy.

This $200 billion drain is over one percent of gross domestic product and almost 2 percent of consumer spending.

“Since consumer spending is the main driver of the U.S. economy, when speculators, oil companies and OPEC rob consumers of that much spending power, the inevitable result is a dramatic reduction of economic activity and employment,” said Mark Cooper, CFA’s Research Director and author of the report.

A 2% reduction in consumer spending on goods and services translates into the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Read the rest of the article here.

Looking for a solution? The Open Fuel Standard would create millions of jobs in America. Read more: America's Economic Recovery.

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Department of Defense Makes First Strategic Strike on OPEC

Friday, October 14, 2011

By Alan Anderson

The Department of Defense has been talking a lot lately about its plans to put OPEC out of business for good. Now more than 10 years into the 21st century the United States is looking to change its National Security Policy from protecting oil interests in OPEC nations to developing its own renewable fuels program (read more about that here). Leaders at both the DOD and DOE have for months been discussing ideas of changing the way the DOD it fuels the military arsenal. Many defense contractors have suggested numerous types of future and far off ideas and technologies that will require years and years of wasted funds that can be put to use today.

Since the Oil Crisis of the early 1970’s the United States has been in R&D mode looking for the replacement for oil and has studied everything from mice dung to emptying landfills to produce the world’s next great fuel source. While the United States has been researching all these years, other nations such as Brazil and many European countries have taken action and already solved their National Security issues using the one fuel that has proven decade after decade to outperform petroleum fuels in every category. Sugar ethanol has taken Brazil from one of the poorest countries in South America to now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It was less than 10 years ago that Brazil was a large oil import country and today it is a net exporter due to its countrywide use of ethanol for transportation.

As much of the world already knows, sugar is the one component to ferment alcohols to make ethanol. Brazil was the world leader in sugarcane production so it was a simple transition that took many years to reach its goals of being the world’s largest producer of ethanol. Brazil flourished in the past decade with its newfound independence from oil. Meanwhile, America stood still and watched the rest of the world take bold steps forward in the field of renewable fuels, only to now realize that it is 10 years behind. The United States has used one of its most abundant agricultural commodities to produce ethanol for well over 30 years now (corn). Farmers are great at growing corn across America and ethanol producers here have adapted their production processes for the crop only to have the market stand stagnant for years.

When it comes to National Security here in the United States the farmers of America have always stood up and made the sacrifice to help feed or fuel the fighting forces of our great country. Farmers stand ready to do the same today. When the military asks for fuels to supply them in the battlefield I think it deserves only the best America can give them. The American ethanol industry sat back and allowed countries like Iran and China to outperform them in the production of the simplest form of fuel, Sugar Ethanol. As many new companies are now in research mode for new alternatives, some businessmen and farmers are reinventing the most cost effective form of ethanol using the world’s highest yielding form of sugar, the Energy beet which has been developed to produce yields that corn growers can only dream of.

Today in America there are three plants in development that will utilize the new non-food Energy beet to produce ethanol and supply existing ethanol plants with beet pulp to make corn fermentation more energy efficient and lower costs for the whole industry. This is the first step to the best drop-in biofuels to come along since Henry Ford first used ethanol in every car that left his factories. This is also the one way the United States can again start to consider itself Energy Independent from OIL. But this is just the first step to my idea of shaking the OPEC monopoly. The second is the change in engine technology for our Military.

The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy have asked for ways to make their fighting vehicles more efficient and run on these new fuels. The one way this will happen is if the American auto industry makes every new vehicle produced for the military capable of 100% ethanol or methanol. Now most of the auto manufactures will tell you that it could take up to ten years to make this happen, which is simply not true. Nearly 90% of all cars and trucks produced by GM today are already Flex Fuel Capable. The only missing component to a non-FFV is the software upgrade in its onboard computer. All of the big three American automakers already produce FFV’s for markets abroad. So what is needed for our military is Congress to pass a bill to mandate FFV’s for all new government ordered vehicles, including those for the military.

That type of bill already exists in the halls of Congress today, The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011. If lawmakers can agree that for National Security reasons the bill can be modified to include all currently contracted military vehicles it should be passed as soon as humanly possible.

The one issue I waited to address was the one of land use to produce drop-in biofuels for our military. One major argument against agricultural biofuel is that of land use. This issue has been one that was invented by industries that would lose support with the expansion of biofuels. The claims made by these industries are all false and have been proven untrue by scientists and government research alike. But let’s just consider for one moment that we were going to expand drop-in biofuels right on the installation, that would decrease the cost even more by eliminating the costs to transport the fuel to such sites. In states like California, the production can continue year round.

The ideas I’ve provided you with today are ones we can do immediately to change the course of our National Security and not kick it down the road for the sake of argument at a later time. The men and women of our Armed Forces depend on us to make the tough decisions that help save their lives. This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is an issue of National Security and Independence from the OPEC oil monopoly.

In April 2011, The Energy Department sponsored a forum on energy security at the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. William Lynn and Daniel Poneman announced a joint plan between the Defense and Energy Departments. The departments will work together on energy issues by developing clean energy technology and improving energy security. Also attending was Jane Harman from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, she made it clear during the forum that these are issues that are going to save the lives of our brave men and women who serve our great nation and they deserve the best we have to offer them now. So as you can see, these issues go hand in hand. Energy Security equals National Security.

Alan Anderson, a freelance writer focusing on green renewable alternative fuels such as sugar based ethanol and biodiesel. He has written for many online publications including Newsvine.com, EnergyBoom.com and The Energy Collective. President of the newly formed National Association of Proficient Renewable Biofuels (NAPRB) And Supporter of the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011.

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American Jobs

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I just read a few surprising facts. Even though Facebook has had a global impact and changed the lives of millions, the company only employs 2,000 people. Google has about 29,000. In contrast, General Motors employs 200,000.

It made me think about the Open Fuel Standard. The opening of new markets for American made fuel would add millions of American jobs, quickly putting to work far more people than Facebook or Google ever will.

Just something to think about...

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Higher Mixed Alcohol Fuel: An Introduction

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The following was written by: Jay Toups, CEO, Bioroot Energy, LLC, and Mark C. Radosevich, Chief Scientist, Bioroot Energy, LLC.

Imagine vehicles that can run any alcohol fuel whether blended with petroleum or as a substitute, neat fuel.

Imagine an economy that no longer exports $.65 cents of every petroleum dollar to foreign countries.

Imagine a powerful 138 octane alcohol fuel formula that makes money and doesn't hurt the environment.

Imagine converting municipal solid and liquid wastes, biomass, coal, refinery wastes, methane and CO2 into clean fuels in massive volumes for domestic distribution and seamless use or export.

What is needed to kickstart this dramatic expansion of the liquid renewables landscape? Simply, the political will to stand up to established energy industry interests and pass the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 bill — for the good of the national economy, the environment and the domestic energy industry. This Congressional bill is instrumental to spurring private investor interest in developing an accessible market for cleaner liquid fuels, while opening up new opportunities for citizens as renewable fuel producers who enable America to reduce its dependence upon petroleum fuels.

If you want more, better and cleaner liquid fuel choices, contact your representatives today!

Meanwhile, Back In The Fuel World...

What happens if the OFS bill doesn't pass? What if it does? Either way, it's clear that the world's increasing demand for liquid fuels won't be met by petroleum fuels. It is also clear that producing more single-alcohol fuels such as C1 methanol, C2 batch-fermented ethanol, or C4 batch-fermented iso-butanol will not provide sufficient additional volume. Demand will also not be met with another float-on-water oil - whether this oil-based fuel is derived from plant or animal substrates, such as waste restaurant greases, algae, dedicated fuel crops, or coal. America will need new and biodegradable fuels yet to be commercialized to meet future demands.

Thus far, alternative and renewable fuels have not achieved true profitability in the marketplace. Corn ethanol for example, has required a subsidy for 30 years, cellulosic ethanol has proven a total disappointment to date, and Fischer-Tropsch synthetic diesel (WW II-era synthetic coal-to-liquid oils) has not proven cost-effective even after 20 years of private sector development and investment. In fact, the Nazis were producing more synthetic oils from coal than today's scientists, even when crude oil is over $100 per barrel!

However, methanol, and its hybrid cousin, higher mixed alcohol ENVIROLENE®, can be produced in massive volumes and less expensively than either petroleum fuels or batch-fermented ethanol or iso-butanol. Which of these emerging fuels is ready to power all types of gasoline and diesel engines, with or without a flex fuel option?

Only higher mixed alcohol fuel blends seamlessly with gasoline and diesel fuels at the current 10.25 percent level or can be run neat as a gasoline substitute fuel in flex fuel vehicles.

Filling the Gen 2 Renewables Gap

Just a decade ago there was little ethanol in the fuel supply, yet corn ethanol was destined to become the first clean renewable oxygenate produced at commercial volumes. However, after ten years of increasing market share, and with corn ethanol production capped by RFS2 mandate at 15 billion gallons per year, the ethanol industry is looking for growth in cellulosic ethanol production which has not happened. Unmet mandates for cellulosic ethanol production, reduced by nearly 100 percent for four years running, are a strong signal that cellulosic ethanol isn't working yet, and that other alcohol fuels will be needed to fill the RFS2 gap of 21 billion gallons per year.

According to the EPA, qualifying production of cellulosic ethanol through June 2011 was zero gallons.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/compliancehelp/rfsdata.htm

In the late 1970's, Dow Chemical, Union Carbide and other companies developed higher mixed alcohol gas-to-liquid (GTL) synthesis as a response to the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970's and the phase out of tetra-ethyl lead as an octane enhancer in gasoline. However, commercial interest didn't materialize with ready supplies of cheap petroleum, and the choice of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) as a competitive octane booster produced from oil refinery waste isobutylene.

Produced from oil refining waste, refiners could produce MTBE cheaper than purchasing batch-fermented corn ethanol to achieve the same objectives. MTBE was legislated out of existence in the USA by 2007 because it polluted groundwater, lakes, rivers and streams. MTBE's recall furthered the rapid growth of the corn ethanol industry, now capturing nearly 10 percent of the domestic fuel market.

Since the initial research and development conducted by Dow Chemical in the late 1970s, higher mixed alcohol fuel research and development has been quietly lead by a Colorado firm, Standard Alcohol Company of America, Inc., with its patented higher mixed alcohol fuel formula, ENVIROLENE®. In 2000, Robert Jimeson, Dr. Rex Stevens, and Mark C. Radosevich of Standard Alcohol Company filed wide-ranging formula-usage patents to cover a blend of synthetic alcohols based on an optimized GTL process which used a novel and proprietary catalyst. Their goal was to create a family of new and biodegradable oxycarbon fuels which seamlessly blend with every form of petroleum-derived fuel or with any rank of coal before being combusted in power plants or industrial boilers.

Today, ENVIROLENE is protected by U.S. and global formula-usage patents — and has earned EPA registration approval as a blended oxygenate additive or as a neat fuel for gasoline and diesel engines in all 50 states, with no engine modifications required.

"Think good, better, best as a simple way of understanding the comparative value of ethanol, methanol and higher mixed alcohol fuel. Higher mixed alcohol fuel (a synthetic blend of 8 to 10 linear, (n) normal alcohols) contains about 60% more BTUs per unit volume than C1 methanol, and nearly 20% more BTUs than C2 fermented corn ethanol."

138 octane ENVIROLENE can be utilized as a total substitute for gasoline when combusted in a car or truck outfitted with a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) computer chip. Alternatively, ENVIROLENE can be splash blended into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, low grade locomotive diesel, home heating oil and thick bunker oils combusted in ocean-going ships.

Splash blending this twenty percent stronger (90,400 BTU) higher mixed alcohol fuel will upgrade refined petroleum products into premium varieties, providing more complete combustion, increased fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions from 50 to 69 percent.

Like other alcohol fuels, higher mixed alcohol fuel combusts much cleaner than gasoline, emitting far less particulate pollution. It is also less likely to catch fire in a crash, and its fumes contain none of gasoline's carcinogens, such as benzene. Methanol and higher mixed alcohols are not meant for human consumption. The normal (n) synthetic alcohols within this blend are methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, pentanol, hexanol, heptanol, octanol, nananol and 10-carbon decanol. Yet both these oxycarbon fuels are water soluble, hydrocarbon oil soluble, coal soluble and easily biodegrade, feeding nature's micro-organisms and plants and trees with a free lunch.

The resources available to support higher mixed alcohol production are vast. In contrast to gasoline, which can be made economically only from petroleum — or batch-fermented corn ethanol whose mass production requires the pre-conversion of starches into sugars — higher mixed alcohol fuel can be continuously synthesized 24x7 from any carbonaceous material: oil, natural gas, CO2, coal, municipal solid and liquid wastes, ground tires and biomass such as beetle-killed pine. There is nothing to plant, fertilize, water, weed and annually harvest as base agricultural feedstocks.

The energy used to power ENVIROLENE GTL catalytic fuel synthesis is carbon from the feedstock itself, whether the carbon is gaseous, being converted via steam reformation, or solid waste which is cleanly and efficiently converted through gasification. About 21% to 25% of the carbon in these feedstocks is combusted to initially provide steam energy. The balance of the feedstock's carbon atoms with associated hydrogen ions, plus oxygen from water (steam), is catalytically converted into biodegradable C1-C10 higher mixed alcohol fuel.

FFV Chips Will Get Smart

Today's factory-spec FFV chips are only calibrated for C2 Ethanol's 75,500 BTUs and 33 percent oxygen content in the neat fuel. However, methanol at 56,000 BTU's features 50% oxygen. ENVIROLENE higher mixed alcohols at 90,400 BTU's contains 34 percent oxygen content.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline contains approximately 112,000 BTUs. M85 (methanol/gasoline blend) contains approximately 65,000 BTU/gallon, and E85 (ethanol/gasoline blend) contains about 81,000 BTU/gallon. ENVIROLENE contains 90,400 BTU/gallon and when blended with regular unleaded at 85/15 volumes yields 93,640 BTUs per gallon.

Offering more fuel choices which include higher mixed alcohol fuel and methanol requires no additional gasoline station infrastructure than it takes to retail E-85. If future FFV-chipped vehicles were to feature a glove-box calibration setting, for example, the chip could automatically adjust for different oxygen and BTU content in C1 methanol/gasoline or C2 ethanol/gasoline or C1-C10 ENVIROLENE higher mixed alcohols/gasoline blends.

The service station pumps whatever flex fuel blends it can purchase from fuel distributors. And the motorist's car or pickup simply runs this gasoline/alcohol blend at 10% to 85% volume percentages or uses gasoline only. A next generation FFV chip could handle at least three fuel blends and also be programmable for running neat alcohols, with no gasoline.

Of course, the price for different alcohol/gasoline blends would vary based on total BTUs/octane being delivered.

Think Bigger About Renewable Fuels and Flex Fuel Infrastructure

Does the world need a cleaner and more scalable liquid fuel produced from a much wider range of feedstocks, such as municipal solid and liquid waste, biomass, coal, scrap tires, methane and even CO2? Or will corn, sugar cane and crop wastes provide enough raw material to produce the massive volumes of batch-fermented ethanol the world is competing for?

Does it make sense to analyze the total impacts of our fuel choices, employing life-cycle assessment methods to look at the total environmental burden of the various liquid fuels?

Alcohol fuels can do far more than power engines. Production of higher mixed alcohol fuels can also address significant environmental problems, such as lowering tailpipe and industrial emissions, reducing municipal solid and liquid waste volumes, or converting stranded (coalbed) methane, or capturing and recycling CO2 from coal-fired power plant smokestacks.

America needs a widely produced, more powerful, more profitable and less expensive oxygenate fuel to round out the range of options and fill the gap in America's renewable fuels production mandate. Higher mixed alcohol fuel is this game-changer fuel.

About the authors:

Mark C. Radosevich is Chief Scientist of Bioroot Energy, LLC. He has over 30 years in professional research and marketing of alternative energy systems. He is also co-founder of Standard Alcohol Company of America, Inc., and co-author of the company's slate of higher mixed alcohol fuel formula and usage patents.

Jay Toups is CEO/Managing Member of Bioroot Energy, LLC, a Montana cleantech company planning a commercial ENVIROLENE® production facility in Missoula, Montana.

More information:
http://www.biorootenergy.com
http://www.standardalcohol.com
or email: info@biorootenergy.com

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How to Weaken the Power of Foreign Oil

Sunday, October 2, 2011

By Robert C. McFarlane and R. James Woolsey

OUR country has just gone through a sober national retrospective on the 9/11 attacks. Apart from the heartfelt honoring of those lost — on that day and since — what seemed most striking is our seeming passivity and indifference toward the well from which our enemies draw their political strength and financial power: the strategic importance of oil, which provides the wherewithal for a generational war against us, as we mutter diplomatic niceties.

Oil’s strategic importance stems from its virtual monopoly as a transportation fuel. Today, 97 percent of all air, sea and land transportation systems in the United States have only one option: petroleum-based products. For more than 35 years we have engaged in self-delusion, saying either that we have reserves here at home large enough to meet our needs, or that the OPEC cartel will keep prices affordable out of self-interest. Neither assumption has proved valid. While the Western Hemisphere’s reserves are substantial and growing, they pale in the face of OPEC’s, which are substantial enough to effectively determine global supply and thus the global price.

According to senior executives in the oil industry, in the years ahead that price is going to rise beyond anything we’ve seen — well above the $147 per barrel we experienced three years ago. Such a run-up in the price of oil has been predicted as a consequence of an event like an attack on a major Saudi processing facility that takes production off line. But such a spike would be more likely to be caused by the predictable increase of demand in China, India and developing countries, alongside the cartel’s strategy of driving up prices by constraining supply. While OPEC sits on 79 percent of the world’s conventional oil reserves, it accounts for only one-third of global oil supply.

There is, however, a way out of this crisis. Ultimately, electric cars may become the norm, but for the near and middle term, the solution lies in opening the transportation fuel market to competition from sources other than petroleum. American oil companies have come around to understanding the wisdom of introducing competition, as a matter of their own self-interest. But doing so means rapidly ramping up production of the alternative fuels, and that is the challenge. As an example, before investors will expand production capacity for cellulosic ethanol from plant life, or for methanol from natural gas — which on a per-mile basis is significantly cheaper than gasoline — they want to see that a sufficient proportion of the cars and trucks on America’s roads can burn these fuels.

Here too, however, a solution is at hand; it lies in Detroit’s making more flex-fuel cars — cars able to use gasoline, ethanol, methanol or any mixture of these. And because this flex-fuel option costs less than $100 per car, making such a change is not exorbitant. Indeed, some 90 percent of all cars sold in Brazil last year are flex-fuel cars, and many of them were made by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. That gives Brazilian drivers the option to purchase the most cost-effective fuel, and they can easily switch from one type to another.

But here’s the rub. Although the American manufacturers have stated publicly their willingness to make flex-fuel vehicles up to 50 percent of their production, they’re just not doing it. Hence the need for Congress to require that new vehicles allow the use of alternative fuels. In some corners of Washington, that raises a cry against “mandates.” Of course the response to that is: Doing nothing is equivalent to mandating a monopoly by a single fuel (whose price is set by a foreign cartel).

Competition is a bedrock of our American way of life. It’s time to introduce it into our fuel market.

That is the purpose of the United States Energy Security Council, a bipartisan group introduced to the public last week in Washington, which includes former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and two former secretaries of defense, William J. Perry and Harold Brown, as well as three former national security advisers, a former C.I.A. director, two former senators, a Nobel laureate, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and several Fortune-50 chief executives (including a former president of Shell Oil North America, John D. Hofmeister).

The time has come to strip oil of its strategic status. We owe it to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in its aftermath, and to those whose fate still hangs in the balance.

Robert C. McFarlane was the national security adviser from 1983 to 1985. R. James Woolsey, chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995.

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Videos of the United States Energy Security Council's Recent Two-Hour Conference

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A bipartisan group of 20 former cabinet level officials, retired senators, and prominent business leaders are calling on America's political leaders to address one of the major contributors to our economic vulnerability: Oil's power as a strategic commodity, and its virtual monopoly as the global transportation fuel.

The organization — the United States Energy Security Council (which you can read more about here) — held a two-hour conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. last week to formally declare their purpose.

The Auto Channel filmed the event, which you can watch here: All-Star 'Major League' USESC Team Comes to Bat for Alternative Fuels.

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Projected U.S. Dependence on Iraq Oil Highlights Need for Free Market

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On 9 September 2011 Meghan O’Sullivan, deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005-2007, made the case for a post-2011 foreign internal defense mission in Iraq comprised of approximately 10,000 U.S. troops. She opined that the most compelling case for this is “the role that Iraq may play in averting a major global energy crisis in the coming years,” noting,

The world economic recession eased pressure on global oil supplies and provided relief from the climbing energy prices of 2007 and 2008. But a quiet trend of 2010 was that growth in global oil consumption grew at the second fastest rate ever, 2.8 percent, while growth in global crude oil production lagged behind at 2.5 percent. If demand continues to outgrow supply, it will be only a few short years before global spare capacity of oil – one of the indicators most closely tied to prices – gets dangerously low, and jittery markets push prices up and up.

O’Sullivan continued,
…If Iraq remains one of a rapidly dwindling number of Arab countries willing to cooperate with the United States publicly and privately, and if the development of Iraq’s oil resources help the world avoid another energy crisis, some may recalculate the strategic ledger on the U.S. intervention in Iraq.

While it remains to be seen whether the Iraqi government will agree to a continued U.S. military presence after 2011, statements from key Iraqi leaders are not promising. Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr recently vowed to resume military operations against U.S. military forces and the Iraqi government if American troops remain in Iraq after the end of the year. U.S. attempts to press the issue or sidestep dissenting Iraqi policymakers could cause Iraqis to question their government's sovereignty and exacerbate political instability.

Concerning oil negotiations, investors may face continued uncertainty given that none of the contracts the Maliki administration has signed with international oil companies have been approved by the Iraqi parliament. The Maliki administration has argued that parliamentary approval of these contracts is unnecessary but this position remains in dispute while debate within the Iraqi Council of Representatives on a new law governing foreign investment in the oil industry continues. Iraq’s history of foreign control over its energy resources makes Iraqi legislators particularly wary of appearing to have been co-opted by foreign interests. This political sensitivity may make contract terms, viewed as controversial in some circles, difficult to enforce.

Of deeper concern is the Iraqi government’s need to address persistently high unemployment, lack of access to basic services, and corruption, which is ranked among the highest in the world. If Iraqis do not see tangible benefits from foreign investment in their oil industry they are likely to blame foreign interests along with their own government officials for financial mismanagement. As observable in Nigeria, the fifth largest oil exporter to the U.S. as of June 2011, the costs of corruption can be significant to foreign investors.

Suspicions abound throughout the Middle East that foreign powers desire to regain control of the region’s energy resources. Western media sources have also questioned the intentions of their own political officials and oil executives concerning energy interests in Iraq. Given the recent history of bad blood between the West and the Muslim world, U.S. officials should be wary of stoking the fires of nationalism in the region.

Whether or not U.S. economic objectives in Iraq are achieved post-2011, it is vital for Congress to take a longer term, comprehensive approach to meeting global energy demand, which is projected to place increasing strain on supply capacity as Meghan O’Sullivan notes. This will in turn drive up the cost of manufacturing and transporting goods and exacerbate unemployment levels. The Open Fuel Standard Act’s free market approach to this problem should attract the bi-partisan support it needs for passage on the condition that Americans mobilize at the state and district level to counteract the financial influence of the oil industry, which surely does not want to relinquish its monopoly over the transportation fuels market.

Nearly 4,500 of our troops have been killed in Iraq to date and tens of thousands more are suffering from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, lost limbs and substance abuse. Americans must come to the realization that energy security is a vital national interest that the United States has used military force to maintain and that the possibility of future energy conflicts will only increase unless we reduce our dependence on oil.

Competition in the fuels market will not remedy U.S. dependence on the Middle East overnight but it can play a crucial role in reversing our trend toward increasing reliance on the region and all of the security problems that follow. It’s time for members of Congress to demonstrate their support for our troops by putting the free market to work in the interests of our national security.

Thomas J. Buonomo is a former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has spent the past six years researching U.S. foreign energy policy in the Middle East.

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Both Houses Now Have an Open Fuel Standard Bill

Friday, September 23, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) in introducing a bill to break oil’s monopoly over the U.S. transportation fuel industry by ensuring that most new vehicles in the United States are capable of running on a range of domestically produced alternative fuels starting in 2015.

By introducing competition among fuels, the Open Fuels Standard (OFS) Act aims to bring about significant reductions in fuel prices paid by U.S. consumers. Transportation fuel choice could also sharply reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and reduce the $200 billion “monopoly premium” the Department of Energy calculates U.S. consumers currently pay to OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and other foreign oil producers each year through excessive petroleum prices. Keeping this money within U.S. borders would sharply cut the U.S. trade deficit, safeguard U.S household income, and provide capital and market incentive for investment in new U.S. energy infrastructure.

“For too long oil has had a monopoly over transportation fuel and American drivers have had no choice but to pay volatile and elevated prices at the pump,” said Cantwell. “Phasing in vehicles that can run on fuels other than petroleum will allow a whole host of new domestic sources of transportation fuel to come online, which should reduce our dangerous overdependence on foreign oil and help keep American dollars here at home. I am encouraged by the broad bipartisan and stakeholder support for the Open Fuels Standard Act which I believe is a recognition that this approach will really help diversify our nation’s energy supply and spur investment and job creation.”

The Open Fuels Standard Act requires that starting in 2015, 50 percent of new vehicles manufactured or sold in the United States be flex fuel capable – meaning able to run on non-petroleum fuels such as domestically-produced ethanol or methanol or other alcohols in addition to, or instead of, petroleum-based fuels. In 2018, 80 percent of new vehicles would need to be flex fuel capable. According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, adding this capability to new vehicles would cost manufacturers between $100 and $210 upfront using technologies already widely available, and consumers could recoup this additional cost through fuel savings within one year of purchasing a new vehicle.

Adoption of an Open Fuels Standard would spur the development and use of alcohol fuels such as ethanol and methanol that can be made from a wide variety of domestic energy resources including agricultural waste, energy crops, natural gas, and even trash. By increasing the share of these abundant domestic fuels in the U.S. market, the Open Fuels Standard Act has the potential to transform a key drag on the American economy, creating new jobs, strengthening our national security, and addressing challenging environmental concerns such as climate change.

— - —

The introduction of the Open Fuel Standard Act into the Senate coincides with the launch of the United States Energy Security Council, whose members include former National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane and former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey who authored a New York Times op-ed today entitled, “How to Weaken the Power of Foreign Oil.” The op-ed stresses the need for Congress to enact an Open Fuels Standard-like requirement in order to end oil’s monopoly as the lynchpin of U.S. energy security. The new Council’s purpose is to focus on reducing U.S. energy vulnerability and enhancing national security by finding alternatives to foreign oil. According to today’s op-ed, the new Council’s members include former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and two former secretaries of defense, William Perry and Harold Brown, as well as three former national security advisers, a former C.I.A. director, two former senators, a Nobel laureate, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and several Fortune-50 chief executives including a former president of Shell Oil North America, John Hofmeister.

Read more about the US Energy Security Council here.

Read more about why the Open Fuel Standard Act is so important here.

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Achieving $2 Gas

Friday, September 16, 2011

It’s possible, with the right policy.

Republican presidential contender Michele Bachman has said that if she is elected, gas prices will fall to $2 per gallon. Such promises have understandably been greeted with considerable skepticism. But $2 gas is exactly what America needs. The question is, how can we get it?

We can’t do it just by expanded domestic drilling. In order for gasoline prices to fall to $2 per gallon, oil prices must be cut to $50 per barrel. And oil prices are set globally, with the dominating influence being the OPEC oil cartel. Since 1973, this cartel, which controls 80 percent of the earth’s commercially viable oil reserves, has refused to expand production, thus keeping petroleum prices artificially high. While, with a more pro-business government, the United States might conceivably be able to expand its production by a million or two barrels per day, OPEC could easily counter by cutting its production to match, or more likely, by simply continuing its non-expansion policy and letting increased Chinese demand take care of the slack.

If we are ever to get $2 gas, the power of OPEC to control oil prices needs to be broken. The United States Congress could do this with a stroke of the pen, simply by passing the bipartisan Open Fuel Standard bill (H.R. 1687). This act would effectively destroy OPEC by requiring that all new cars sold in the USA be fully flex fuel, able to run equally well on gasoline, ethanol, and — most important — methanol. This latter capability is critical because methanol can be, and is, made cheaply in large quantities from coal, natural gas, or any kind of biomass without exception. The United States has only 4 billion tons of oil reserves, but we have 270 billion tons of coal, vast amounts of natural gas, and an enormous capacity to produce biomass. By requiring that all cars sold here (and thus all cars made worldwide) be compatible with methanol, the act would force oil to compete with a fuel whose sources are not controlled by the cartel, and that we and our allies possess in abundance.

Methanol has only about half the energy per gallon as gasoline, but is 105 octane, which means it can be burned more efficiently. Taken together, these two factors make methanol’s current spot price of $1.38 per gallon roughly competitive with $2 gasoline.

Of course, the passage of the OFS bill would not cause gasoline prices to crash instantly. While it would no doubt hit oil futures hard, and thus cut the speculative premium on petroleum prices, the most immediate result of allowing methanol to compete against gasoline in the vehicle-fuel market would be to send methanol prices up, perhaps by as much as 60 percent. This situation would not, however, last for long. Methanol can be made and sold profitably today for $1.38 per gallon. At a 60 percent markup, its manufacture would be super-profitable, and massive amounts of capital would rush in to expand production. This would drive the price of methanol down, dragging gasoline and oil down prices with it, until methanol reached a price point where its production offered no greater profit than that prevailing in the economy at large. The fact that methanol would reach this price — what Adam Smith would term its natural price — follows from the fact that the sources to make methanol are plentiful and diverse, so that no cartel can artificially limit its production.

This underscores the key issue. There is not a free market in oil. Adjusted for inflation, the price of oil has increased eightfold since 1973, but OPEC production has not increased at all. In a free market, such a price increase would spur increased investment, with subsequent expanded production driving the price right back down again. That is why the inflation-adjusted price of coal, and nearly every other industrial commodity, has not risen in four decades. But because of the cartel, oil production has not responded to price increases in the way that it should in a properly functioning capitalist economy. In order for the free-enterprise system to do its work and deliver the cheap fuel the world needs, the ability of this cartel to limit the world’s liquid-fuel supplies needs to be broken. The Open Fuel Standard bill would accomplish that.

High oil prices are wrecking our economy. Since the United States imports 5 billion barrels of oil per year, the current price of nearly $90 per barrel will hit us for $450 billion this year alone, a huge tax on our economy. As a result, millions of jobs and thousands of businesses are being lost. If this wealth-draining process is allowed to continue, fiscal necessity will require us to withdraw the military forces protecting our national interests abroad, without a shot being fired.

Instead of seeking to exploit this catastrophe by placing its blame on their opponents, or posing with empty promises of salvation contingent upon their promotion to higher office, politicians need to take action. Two-dollar gas is not just a nice idea for inclusion in a campaign speech. It’s a critical necessity for economic recovery.

Either we break the cartel, or the cartel breaks us. The Open Fuel Standard bill needs to be passed.

— Robert Zubrin is a member of the Board of Advisors of Americans for Energy and author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.

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