What is Methanol?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 allows gasoline to compete freely with ethanol and methanol. We've heard a lot about ethanol. But what about methanol? What is it? What is it made from? The following facts are derived from an informative PDF document on methanol, which you can download here.

Also known as wood alcohol, methanol is a convenient liquid fuel made from a number of different feedstock resources — natural gas and coal as well as renewable resources like forest thinnings and agricultural waste and it can even be made directly from CO2 captured from power plant and factory emissions.

In 2010, over 45 million metric tons of methanol was consumed around the globe, or 15 billion gallons, which is roughly equivalent to global ethanol fuel demand. By 2012, global demand is expected to reach over 50 million metric tons (17 billion gallons). This steadily increasing demand is driven in large part by the expanded use of methanol as a liquid fuel for passenger cars, and also for its conversion to dimethyl ether, which is a clean alternative to diesel fuel for trucks and buses.

As demand continues to expand in the U.S. and around the world, global production capacity is growing at an even faster rate and is expected to reach over 85 million metric tons by 2012. Based on these forecasts, there will be 34 million tons of excess production capacity around the world, enough to produce 11 billion gallons of methanol per year. Additional billions of gallons of production capacity is also available today in mothballed plants in North America and facilities in Europe.

One of the distinct advantages of employing methanol as a sustainable source of fuel is the diverse array of feedstocks from which this simple alcohol can be produced. Besides industrial production from natural gas and coal, methanol can be made from anything that is, or ever was, a plant. Timber waste, landfill gas, trash, pulp mill black liquor, agricultural waste and even CO2 pollution, among a host of other viable sources — all can be converted into methanol, as an effective way to store and distribute the energy from each source.

One of the best things about methanol is that it can be made from so many different things in so many different places. The reason this is important is that it will help protect the fuel market against the wild fluctuations it has had since the oil embargo in the early '70s. Now more excerpts:

methanol car, the Lotus Exige
In order to produce 30 billion gallons of methanol fuel, we would need to only tap into less than 5% of three abundant resources in the United States, and we already have proven technologies for their conversion to methanol.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 21.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas was produced in the United States in 2008. With about 100 cubic feet of natural gas needed to produce one gallon of methanol, the production of 10 billion gallons of methanol would require 1 Tcf of natural gas, or less than 5% of current domestic natural gas production.

Also according to the EIA, the U.S. produced 1,171 million short tons of coal in 2008. It takes about 5,000 short tons of coal to produce one million gallons of methanol using proven gasification technology. The production of 10 billion gallons of methanol would require 50 million short tons of coal, or just 4.2% of current coal production.

And according to a joint DOE/USDA report, U.S. forestland and agricultural land — the two largest potential biomass sources — represent over 1.3 billion dry tons per year of biomass potential, which alone is enough to produce biofuels meeting more than one-third of the current demand for transportation.

Using mature gasification technology, one ton of biomass can be used to produce 165 gallons of methanol, as opposed to only about 100 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. The production of 10 billion gallons of methanol would require 60 million tons of biomass, or less than 5% of the biomass production potential. With these three feedstocks alone, we could produce 30 billion gallons of methanol fuel and could meet our fuel diversity goals from less than 5% of the current production capacity of each.

Methanol will be an enormous boon to the fuel market in the United States. It doesn't take too much imagination to suppose that the great incentive for profit brought about by the Open Fuel Standard Act will constantly produce new and better ways to make fuel from what is now simply trash, which means that the Open Fuel Standard Act will solve much more than our pollution problems and our economic vulnerability to OPEC.

And there are already so many proven sources of methanol — like agricultural waste, forest thinnings, CO2 exhaust and landfill gas — and proven methods of extracting it efficiently, we don't have to wait for further innovation. We only need more cars on the road that can burn the fuel.

If you'd like to help the Open Fuel Standard become law so we can get this fuel revolution going as soon as possible, we have plenty of practical actions you can take, and many of them will take very little time. Start here.

Read more:
Miraculous Methanol
Methanol Wins An Open Wager

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Ethanol Saved Americans Money Memorial Day Weekend

For millions of Americans, Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to summer. Despite gas prices that were nearly 40% higher than a year ago, families across the nation celebrated the holiday weekend by taking a road trip.

Many of them were unaware that the increasing availability of ethanol saved them money. They spent less on gasoline than would otherwise have been the case. The average American family that took a trip Memorial Day weekend saved more than $31 simply due to the fact that ethanol is holding gasoline prices down. Savings due to ethanol was $440 million, based on AAA estimates of average trip length.

And the moment the Open Fuel Standard Act becomes law, we will all begin spending even less for fuel as OPEC's ability to manipulate the American economy will begin to wane, and as fuels will be able to compete with each other at every pump.

If you'd like to see this happen sooner rather than later, urge your representative to become a co-sponsor of the Open Fuel Standard Act. Click here for an easy way to do that. And once you're done, share it with all your friends. If you'd like to do more, click here.

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Welcome to OpenFuelStandard.org

Monday, May 30, 2011

This site is dedicated to passing the Open Fuel Standard Act. We'll show you what you can do to help. We'll offer support in several ways. If you subscribe to updates on this site, you'll receive articles about how you can help, you'll receive articles you can share with your friends and family that will help them become interested, and we'll keep you up to date on the progress of the bill.

If you don't know much about the bill, watch the video, What is an Open Fuel Standard?


Also, please "like" our Facebook page by clicking here and follow us on Twitter by clicking here. Thank you.

If you already understand how important the bill is and want to do something to help make it happen, start here.

If you want to become more informed about why the Open Fuel Standard is so important, check out our list of recommended books, articles, and online videos here.

And if you've been in conversations and sometimes get questions you have trouble answering, check out our Answers to Questions page.

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No Quick Fix for America's Rising Gas Prices? Think Again.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The comment below, from "Neil" on LinkedIn's Clean Energy Community, makes a good point about the speed with which things could change:

Did President Obama get it wrong when he just said that there is no “quick fix” for America’s problem of rising gasoline prices and vulnerability to spikes in the price of foreign oil?

Sorry, Mr. President, but you are simply wrong. There is a “quick fix” that can massively reduce U.S. oil consumption, and make our vulnerability to price spikes in the foreign oil market a relic of the past. To draw that solution into focus, we need to understand that 70% of the oil the industrialized world uses is needed for transportation and nearly none for generating electrical power. So, shocking as it may seem coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal all have nothing to do with our dependence on oil.

What really matters is the amount of gasoline and diesel we use in cars, trucks and buses. We could reduce that amount cleanly and economically by turning natural gas to methanol and by turning non-food crops and cellulosic waste to ethanol or to synthetic gasoline and diesel – and then use these as a substitute to oil-based fuels. But that won’t happen until we put in place THE ONE POLICY THAT COULD CREATE A MARKET FOR THESE ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND SPUR THE INVESTMENTS NEEDED TO BRING THEM TO MARKET: an “Open Fuel Standard” for autos.

To learn more about the Open Fuel Standard and how it could change the way in which we fuel transportation, I invite you to visit our website at http://www.ea-21.org. The Open Fuel Standard is the “quick fix” to America’s dependence on foreign oil.

One of the most encouraging things about the Open Fuel Standard is how quickly it could change things. Anne Korin, Gal Luft, and Marc Goldman state in their paper, Energy Independence Myths and Solutions:

The challenge with flex fuel is the difficulty in locating a station that pumps it...

That will change when all cars come flex fuel capable. At 10-12 million new cars per year in the U.S., it will take only about three years for flex fuel to reach the 30 million cars needed to justify most gas stations to invest in flex fuel pumps.

Our presidents have been struggling to make the United States independent from foreign oil for over thirty-five years. But with the passing of this bill, things will begin to change within three years. That's pretty quick.

If you'd like to help make this happen, there are a few simple actions you can take, and they won't even take much of your time. Go here to get started.

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What is E85?

E85 is a fuel mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

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Answers to Questions About the Open Fuel Standard Act

Below are the most common questions people ask about the Open Fuel Standard Act. Each link below goes to the answer to the question:

1. Shouldn't we keep the government out of this and let market forces determine what happens?

2. What about natural gas?

3. Will biofuels cause deforestation in the Amazon?

4. Isn't drilling for our own oil a better option?

5. Does the Open Fuel Standard Act limit our choices or expand them?

6. What about electric cars?

Read more...

How to Re-Post Posts You Like

Let's say you're a fan of Open Fuel Standard on Facebook. And let's say we post something you want all your Facebook friends to see. There's an easy way to do this.

Go to the specific post you like, and notice the links immediately underneath that post. One of the links is "Share."

Click on it and a window will pop up. In the lower right of that window is a little box that says, "Share." Click on that.

You're done. That post is now on your page, and all your Facebook friends can see it.

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Definition of "Feedstock"

Friday, May 27, 2011

In the fuel industry, the term "feedstock" means the raw material the fuel is made from. If the ethanol was made from fermented corn, the "feedstock" for the ethanol is corn.

If the methanol was made originally from plant waste, the "feedstock" for the methanol is plant waste.

Both methanol and ethanol can be made from many different feedstocks.

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Oil's Monopoly Limits American Vacations

In an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning:

The U.S. summer driving season starts next week amid predictions that gasoline consumption in the U.S. will be lower than last year as squeezed motorists cut back due to high prices. Fear that this phenomenon will diminish overall oil demand has been a big factor in the recent fall in international oil prices from their April high of $127 a barrel.

However on the other side of the world, industry observers see the opposite situation due to the threat of electricity shortages in China.

The price of oil and how it fluctuates has far too much influence on our economy and our culture. The Open Fuel Standard will free us from oil's domination. If you're committed to setting America free, take action now. Start here.

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Robert Zubrin's Keynote Address on Energy Victory

The following is almost ten minutes long. Robert Zubrin talks about how oil prices have risen dramatically over the last ten years, the part OPEC has played in orchestrating that price hike, and what we can do to free ourselves from OPEC's determination to hobble the American economy.

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Definition of "Energy Density"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

As it is used in the fuel industry, "energy density" means the amount of energy stored in a given liquid, per gallon.

Ethanol has a higher energy density, for example, than methanol. You can drive more miles on a gallon of ethanol than a gallon of methanol.

From ASE Fuel Technology:

Ethanol, and especially methanol, fall short on BTU energy content compared to gasoline. This translates to an estimated 27% to 30% loss of vehicle miles-per-gallon traveled compared to gasoline; it’s even worse for methanol (51%). On the positive side, with ethanol and especially methanol’s higher octane ratings, vehicle operators are impressed with improved torque and horsepower over much of the engine speed range.

From Energy Quest:

The amount of energy in alcohol fuels is different than gasoline. A gallon of gasoline in California contains approximately 111,500 Btu (which stands for British thermal units). By comparison, M85 contains approximately 65,000 Btu/gallon and E85 contains approximately 81,000 Btu/gallon. The lower energy content of these fuels will result in fewer miles per gallon or a shorter driving range. Still, with larger fuel tanks, FFVs often have driving ranges equivalent to conventional gasoline cars. Currently, the Ford Ranger ethanol FFV, beginning with the 1999 model, is the only vehicle available in the U.S. that can run on an alcohol fuel.

From Wikipedia:

One advantage shared by all four alcohols is their high octane rating. This tends to increase fuel efficiency and largely offsets the lower energy density of alcohol fuels (as compared to petrol/gasoline and diesel fuels), thus resulting in comparable "fuel economy" in terms of distance per volume metrics, such as kilometers per liter, or miles per gallon.

From Popular Mechanics:


Methanol has only 51 percent of the BTU content of gasoline by volume.

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Inexpensive Solution: Flex-Fuel Cars Only Add $70 to Cost

GM has produced four million of the seven and a half million flex-fuel cars now on American roads. GM's Vice Chairman Tom Stephens says it adds "as much as $70 to the production cost" of a car to make it a flex-fuel car. Says Stephens:

Today there's 2,200 (ethanol fuel stations) that are out there but that's not enough. Two-thirds of the pumps are concentrated in 10 states and those 10 states have only about 19 percent of the flex-fuel vehicles that we have on the road.

"That will change when all cars come flex fuel capable," says Anne Korin. "At 10-12 million new cars per year in the U.S., it will take only about three years for flex fuel to reach the 30 million cars needed to justify most gas stations to invest in flex fuel pumps."

Alcohol is a cleaner, less-polluting fuel to burn. It is economical (right now it's 90 cents cheaper than gasoline), and it puts less carbon dioxide into the air than gasoline. It can be produced within the United States, adding jobs and stimulating the economy. It adds very little to the cost of the vehicle, and costs the U.S. taxpayers nothing at all. And it will end OPEC's ability to deliberately damage the U.S. economy, as it did during the recent recession.

Passing the Open Fuel Standard Act will get more and more of these flex-fuel cars on the road, spurring competition between fuels, bringing down fuel prices, and motivating fuel stations to add alternative fuels. Do you want to help make this happen? Click here to get started.

Read the whole Reuters article here.

Most of the time when you read an estimate for how much more it costs to make a flex fuel vehicle rather than a gasoline-only car, the number is usually $100. But if GM is already making flex fuel cars and they say it costs $70, why is there any variance in the number?

Here's why: The definitions employed by the Open Fuel Standard Act are unique in a few ways — one of them being its use of the term "FFV" for cars that can operate on E85, M85 and gasoline blends. The four million GM cars on the road today do not meet the definition because the automaker has not warranted them to run on all three fuels.

The types of cars called for by the Open Fuel Standard may cost a little more — most estimates say around $100. It varies a lot, depending on the type of car and the kind of fuel lines used. But when the industry has fully switched over and cars are routinely made into FFVs, the cost may well come down (because of the economy of scale), so most experts simply use the conservative figure of $100.

Compared to the cost of a new car, any of the estimates, by any measure, add an amount so small it would probably be unnoticeable.

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Question: Isn't Drilling for Our Own Oil a Better Option?

Drilling our own oil improves our trade balance and generates American jobs, so it solves two big problems. But it doesn't solve three other big problems — the price of fuel, our vulnerability to OPEC's whims, and the unbounded wealth making its way from our wallets to radical Muslims.

If we drilled all our own oil, OPEC would still control the price of oil, and therefore would still have the ability to cause worldwide recessions, so it is an incomplete solution, which is completed by the Open Fuel Standard.

The two solutions together help solve all five problems, and they all need to be solved.

People often say, "Well, if we drilled our own oil, we wouldn't have to pay OPEC's price." But the only way this would be true is if we had an American company that was willing to sell oil to American consumers at a better price than the company could get for its oil on the world market. Or if the government forced the American company to sell it to us for less than it could get elsewhere. That seems unlikely.

Therefore, the world market price for oil will determine what Americans will pay for gas. And OPEC is such a large cartel, its production level determines the world price. OPEC deliberately keeps the price high and makes it spike higher occasionally, sending America into one recession after another, and draining us of our wealth. Read more about how this works.

The following is an excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal by James Woolsey and Anne Korin:

Oil is a fungible commodity with a global price. Even if the U.S. did not import a drop of oil — or if all, instead of just most, of our imports came from Canada and Mexico — we'd still be vulnerable to the vagaries of the oil market and price manipulation by OPEC.

In 2008, when the world price of oil rose to $147 a barrel, truckers in Britain struck against the huge resulting diesel price. The price skyrocketed even though the United Kingdom was then producing virtually all its own oil...

The cartel that dominates the global oil market sits on 78% of the world's conventional oil reserves. The reason it accounts for only about a third of world oil production is because it is a conspiracy in restraint of trade. When non-OPEC countries drill more, OPEC simply drills less and drives prices back up. If demand is reduced through a one-time improvement in efficiency, OPEC again drills less and prices zip back up...

To outmaneuver OPEC, the market needs to be able to react dynamically. That means giving purchasers of fuel the ability to choose a different fuel at the pump if it's cheaper that day than gasoline or diesel...

One very good way to accomplish this is for Congress to adopt the Open Fuel Standard Act...

Brazilians already have this option: During the oil price spike in 2008, with 90% of their new cars fuel flexible, they bought more alcohol fuel than gasoline.

CBS: "More US drilling didn't drop gas price"

Why You Should Support the Open Fuel Standard Even if You Are Against Mandates in Principle

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Tips for Being An Effective Grassroots Advocate

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The following was written by a professional lobbyist. While it is written about interactions with federal legislators, the guidance is applicable, for the most part, to all elected officials. You can download a PDF version of these guidelines by clicking here.

1. Reach out to your representative. Contact him or her and schedule a mutually convenient time to stop by the local office when Congress is not in session, and your representative is back home in your district, to introduce yourself. Click here to find ways to contact your representative. And click here to find out when the House of Representatives is in or out of session.

You can also introduce yourself at events where your representative appears, including Town Hall meetings. Look on your representative's web site for scheduled events.

2. Face-to-face meetings. Attend the introductory meeting either by yourself or with others. If you go with others, keep the group small. If you will be attending the appointment as a group, get together beforehand to “practice.” For example, one person could talk a little about the bill and reasons it is worthy of support, another could talk about how it could help the local economy, and another could “close” the meeting.

Stay organized and focused during the meeting to make the best use of your time. You will, in all likelihood, have between 15 minutes to a half hour. Don’t try to say everything in the first meeting. Remember, this is an introductory meeting and the goal is that you will have more conversations in the future.

3. Meeting handouts and materials. Keep it light. Giving too much material is overwhelming to your elected official and/or her or his staff, and the likelihood of all of it ending up in the trash is high. There is only so much written material that a congressional office can hold onto or read each day. Remember, they get information from many constituents and organizations.

A good idea is to bring a one-page informative sheet about the Open Fuel Standard Act. Click here to get a PDF Fact Sheet for just such purposes. Giving your representative that fact sheet is good enough for a first meeting. You can always provide more material down the road.

4. Get to know your representative's staff. Remember, congressional staff are the ones who have been tasked to take in all the information provided and digest it for the Member of Congress. It’s their job to get the detail for their bosses, who simply don’t have the time to research every issue about which they must be aware. Therefore, it is critical that you not only get to know the staff of your representative in the district office, but in the DC office as well!

Suggestion: Call the DC office and get the name of the staffer (“Legislative Assistants” or “LA’s”) who will handle the Open Standard Act. Different staffers handle different categories of issues. For example: National Security; Judiciary; Immigration; Energy; Defense. The Open Fuel Standard Act is both National Security and Energy. It might be called "Energy Security."

In all likelihood, more than one staffer will be involved. Get the correct spelling of the staffer’s name. Staffers of a representative will have an email address as follows: [First Name].[Last Name] @mail.house.gov.

5. Develop a working relationship with congressional staff. Either call the staffer (leave a detailed message if you get voice mail, which you frequently will), or send him or her an e-mail introducing yourself and requesting a convenient time to speak on the phone. Always note that you are a constituent because Hill offices get a tremendous volume of phone calls each day. They can be from other Members of Congress or their staff, vendors, lobbyists, constituents, and people who are not constituents, but may have heard the Member of Congress make a statement on CSPAN that upset them – or that they support – and call in about it.  It’s critical that the constituents who call in are weeded out for the staff.  Letting the person who answers the phone know that you are a constituent should immediately put you at the top of the pile, as your representative is there to serve you.

Start a working relationship with him or her. Periodically send articles of interest (don’t bombard the staffer every day!). You want to be viewed as a credible “go-to” person about the Open Fuel Standard.

Start the relationship gently. If you are viewed as too aggressive, or angry, or not credible, you probably won’t get a second chance and that’s a wasted opportunity.

6. Always be respectful, professional, and polite – regardless of how supportive your representative is. You’ll find many Members of Congress who might not be able to support you on one issue, but will on others.

Always remember that elected officials are just ordinary citizens like you. They depend on receiving reliable information from people who visit them in their offices. Think of your visits as educational sessions. Try to explain the Open Fuel Standard in the clearest, most compelling way possible.

Download a PDF version of these guidelines by clicking here.

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When Are Your Representatives Home?

Your representative is back home for long recesses sometimes, and periodically for shorter recesses. You can find out when they are in session here: House Calendar (days in session are shaded dark on the calendar).

Or you can just Google “U.S. House of Representatives Calendar” and you’ll get a variety of places that list this info.

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The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 Gains Two More Co-Sponsors!

The Open Fuel Standard Act has another Republican co-sponsor — Congressman Dennis Ross, a representative from Florida, and another Democrat — Congressman Bruce Braley, a representative from Iowa. That makes two Republicans and six Democrats who have co-sponsored the bill, plus the Republican who authored the bill, Congressman John Shimkus.

The bill was introduced into the House of Representatives earlier this month. It has 8 co-sponsors, and we need a minimum of 218 to get the bill passed. If you haven't yet urged your representative to co-sponsor the bill, please do so soon. Momentum is important.

Click here to find out how to contact your representative and what to say.

If you have already contacted your representative, help educate your friends and family about the bill, and urge them to contact their representatives too. It will help to subscribe to openfuelstandard.org so you can forward some of its emails. Or "like" our Facebook page and share those posts.

The more people our representatives hear from, the more likely they will be to turn their attention to this bill. Let's get it done.

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A Practical Way to Reduce the Danger of OPEC's Hostility Toward America

The following is a review by Alan Walters of the book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil, by Robert Zubrin — the book we most often recommend. The review is entitled, The Plan To Destroy OPEC:

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez says he wants to send oil to $200 a barrel. Robert Zubrin has a plan to stop him. In his book, Energy Victory, Zubrin, an American aerospace engineer known previously primarily for his inventive approach to Mars exploration, lays out the strategy.

To say the book is remarkable would be a severe understatement. Combining soaring idealism, incisive thinking, and a viscous go-for-throat killer instinct in a single package, Energy Victory is the first book I have ever read that actually lays out a credible plan to turn around the world energy situation.

Let's talk about the killer instinct first. Zubrin wants to destroy the oil cartel. In fact, I think a better title for this book would have been "The Plan to Destroy OPEC", and "Why We Must". He has Saudi Arabia and Iran dead center in his sights (he even provides an aerial photograph and targeting information of the Iranian oil export terminal on Kharg Island.) The second and third chapters of the book are entitled Terrorism: Your Gas Dollars at Work (Part 1), and Corrupting Washington: Your Gas Dollars at Work (Part 2), respectively.

Backed up by no less than 84 footnotes, the dossiers presented in these two chapters, particularly of Saudi involvement in the promotion of international terrorism and influence peddling in Washington, are forceful and convincing. He also alludes to Iranian bribery of Moscow officialdom, but unfortunately is rather more sketchy in that department. Suffice to say, however, that there are plenty of people in Riyadh and in both parties of the American political establishment who are not going to be happy when they read this book.

Having thus established that there is considerably more at stake in the energy battle than the pump price of gasoline, Zubrin gets down to the matter of how to win it. This is where the incisive thinking comes in, and is, in my view, the best and most valuable part of the book. You see, Zubrin really does have an answer, and as surprisingly simple as it is, I think it just might work.

In a nutshell, his proposal is this: that the American congress should pass a law mandating that all new cars sold in the United States be flex-fueled, which is to say able to run on any combination of gasoline or alcohol fuels. Flex fuel is proven technology which only adds a few hundred dollars to the cost of a car.

In 2007, roughly 90 percent of all cars sold in Brazil were flex-fueled, but outside of that country, their market share was quite low — comprising about 3 percent of US auto sales, for example. However, as Zubrin argues convincingly, if it were mandated that every new car sold in the USA had to be flex-fueled as a standard feature, then practically every auto manufacturer in the world would be forced to switch their lines over to flex fuel.

Thus the effect of a US flex fuel mandate would be global, and within a few years, put hundreds of millions of cars on the road worldwide capable of running indifferently on either methanol, ethanol, or gasoline. With such a market available, alcohol fuel pumps and associated infrastructure would quickly appear, and the vertical monopoly that the oil cartel holds on the world's vehicular fuel supply would be broken, as gasoline would be forced to compete everywhere against alcohol produced from multiple sources, including biomass, coal, stranded natural gas, recycled urban trash, and so forth.

To be sure, such a development would not quite destroy OPEC. Alcohol fuels are only competitive against oil when the price exceeds about $50 per barrel. So in a free market, the best Zubrin's plan could accomplish would be to send oil prices back down to that level. Still, in the face of current oil prices of $100 per barrel, and much worse potentially in the offing, forcing the price back to $50/bbl and containing it at that level would certainly be an enormous accomplishment.

Which brings us to Zubrin's idealism. He doesn't just want to take away the Saudi's treasure. He wants to use it to end world poverty. He says: "Instead of financing terrorism, our energy dollars could be used to fund world development. Instead of selling blocks of our media to Saudi princes, we could be selling tractors to Africa. Instead of paying for death, we could be helping to spread life. Instead of buying arms for our enemies and chains for ourselves, we could be building a world of prosperity and freedom."

I think he goes a bit over the top here, but there is substance to his case. His points are threefold.

First, that OPEC's jacked up oil prices represent a massive regressive tax on the world's poorest nations. Of this there can be no doubt — it's one thing to pay $100/bbl when you make $200/day, it's quite another when you make $2/day.

Second, he says that by going to alcohol fuels, which can be produced by many kinds of resources, including biomass readily producible by tropical agricultural nations, a substantial fraction of the revenue that is now going to the OPEC petrotyrannies could be much more widely distributed.

As Zubrin points out, in 2005, Saudi Arabia, with a population of 24 million received $150 billion in foreign exchange revenues from oil, while Kenya, with 36 million inhabitants, took in $2.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings from all sources. So distributed more equitably, the Saudi's profits could double the foreign exchange earnings of 60 countries the size of Kenya. That's quite a thought.

Having been to Africa, I have my doubts as to how much of that money would actually reach the poor, but still, one must concede that some probably would, at least indirectly, by providing revenue for national development.

Thirdly, Zubrin makes a strong point by showing how redirecting petroleum dollars towards biomass-based fuels could expand the market for farm products to the point where advanced sector nations might be induced to drop their trade barriers against third world agricultural imports. This certainly would be good all the way around.

For the rest, Energy Victory, contains further chapters backing up Zubrin's main thesis with charts, tables, figures, and footnotes, as well as informative digressions discussing the successful Brazilian experience in achieving energy independence, ways in which biofuels can act in the long term to mitigate global warming, and a fascinating oil-centered analysis of the geopolitical history of the Twentieth Century, especially World War II, in which he shows how the very destiny of humanity hinged on who controlled the fuel supplies.

As Zubrin puts it: "So the crux of the matter comes down to this: Do we want to win or lose? The issue at stake in energy security is not a matter of whether the price of gasoline will be $2 per gallon or $3 per gallon; it is who will determine the human future. Do we want to have the enemy's fate in our hands, or do we want to have ours in theirs?"

Indeed. That is the issue at stake, and finally, someone has published a book that really lays it on the line. Energy Victory is a knock out. It should be read by everyone concerned with policy in this vital area, and its central recommendation implemented as rapidly as feasible.

Mr. Chavez, you could be in for trouble.

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President Obama Revised His Executive Order on Flex Fuel Vehicles

The President has revised his Executive Order on Flex Fuel Vehicles, indicating his support of the concept of the Open Fuel Standard. This is very good news. Here are a couple of articles about it:

Obama orders agency to move to all alternative fuel vehicles by end of 2015

Obama Administration Buying 116 Plug-In Vehicles for Fleet, Led by GM Volt

Congressman Eliot Engel (one of the co-sponsors of the Open Fuel Standard Act) applauded President Barack Obama’s implementing the Open Fuel Standard on federal vehicles.  The Presidential Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance, which would require all new light duty vehicles in the federal fleet to be alternate fuel vehicles, such as hybrid, electric, natural gas, or biofuel, by December 31, 2015. See Congressman Engel's announcement here.

And below you can read the Presidential Memorandum released yesterday (May 24, 2011) by Barack Obama:

Presidential Memorandum — Federal Fleet Performance

The Federal Government operates the largest fleet of light duty vehicles in America. We owe a responsibility to American citizens to lead by example and contribute to meeting our national goals of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015.

Living up to that responsibility means the Federal fleet should operate only as many vehicles as needed to work efficiently, leveraging Federal purchasing dollars to build manufacturing capacity for more alternative fueled vehicles, and reducing petroleum consumption through efficiency and alternative fuels.

In Executive Order 13514 of October 5, 2009, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, my Administration set a goal of reducing petroleum use in the Federal fleet. In order to provide guidance to executive departments and agencies (agencies) to help achieve my Administration's Federal fleet performance goals, and to ensure that agencies are in compliance with Executive Order 13514, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Vehicle Technologies. (a) By December 31, 2015, all new light duty vehicles leased or purchased by agencies must be alternative fueled vehicles, such as hybrid or electric, compressed natural gas, or biofuel. Moreover, agency alternative fueled vehicles must, as soon as practicable, be located in proximity to fueling stations with available alternative fuels, and be operated on the alternative fuel for which the vehicle is designed. Where practicable, agencies should encourage development of commercial infrastructure for alternative fuel or provide flex fuel and alternative fuel pumps and charging stations at Federal fueling sites.

(b) Pursuant to motor vehicle management regulations, set forth at 41 C.F.R. 102-34.50, executive fleets are required to achieve maximum fuel efficiency; be limited in motor vehicle body size, engine size, and optional equipment to what is essential to meet agency mission; and be midsize or smaller sedans, except where larger sedans are essential to the agency mission. Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, any executive fleet vehicles that are larger than a midsize sedan or do not comply with alternative fueled vehicle requirements must be disclosed on agency websites.

(c) The Department of Energy shall assist the United States Postal Service (USPS) in evaluating the best alternative fuel technologies for the USPS fleet.

Sec. 2. Optimum Fleet Size. Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the General Services Administration (GSA) shall develop and distribute to agencies a Vehicle Allocation Methodology (VAM) for determining the optimum inventory with emphasis placed on eliminating unnecessary or non-essential vehicles from an agency's fleet inventory and ensuring lifecycle cost-effectiveness of maintaining such inventory. In addition, the VAM shall address composition for agencies' light duty fleets based on their missions. In doing so, the GSA shall consider existing Federal VAMs as appropriate. The VAM shall assist agencies in selecting vehicle options based on lifecycle cost analysis, including projected fuel costs, warranty, operations, mileage, maintenance, and disposal.

Sec. 3. Fleet Management. (a) Within 180 days of the GSA's dissemination of the VAM referenced in section 2 of this memorandum, agencies shall determine their optimal fleet inventory using the VAM, and shall post their optimal fleet inventory targets on agency websites. At the same time, agencies shall submit to the Administrator of General Services (Administrator) fleet management plans to achieve these targets no later than December 31, 2015.

(b) Within 30 days of receiving agency fleet management plans, the Administrator shall submit a summary of the plans to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

(c) Within 90 days of receiving agency fleet management plans, the Administrator shall provide each agency and military service with recommendations for the acquisition of alternative fueled vehicles to implement fleet optimization plans, including shared fleet-on-demand services where applicable.

(d) Agencies shall incorporate new fleet management plans into their Annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans prepared in furtherance of Executive Order 13514, beginning with their June 2012 plan submission.

Sec. 4. Applicability. (a) With respect to law enforcement and emergency vehicles, the GSA shall, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, and in coordination with the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and the Treasury, and other appropriate agencies, issue guidance to agencies on the applicability and implementation of alternative fueled vehicle requirements.

(b) Consistent with the guidance developed in section 4(a) of this memorandum, the head of an agency may exempt vehicles used for law enforcement, protective, emergency response, or military tactical operations of that agency from the provisions of this memorandum.

(c) This memorandum shall apply to the activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of each agency that are located within the United States. The head of an agency may apply this memorandum to activities, personnel, resources, and facilities

of the agency that are not located within the United States, to the extent the head of the agency determines that doing so is in the interest of the United States.

Sec. 5. Definitions. (a) "Alternative fueled vehicle" means an alternative fuel vehicle as defined by Executive Order 13514 and an alternative fueled vehicle as defined by 42 U.S.C. 13211(3), including a "new qualified fuel cell motor vehicle" as defined in 26 U.S.C. 30B(b)(3) and a "new qualified hybrid motor vehicle" as defined in 26 U.S.C. 30B(d)(3).

(b) "Agency" means an agency as defined in Executive Order 13514.

(c) "United States" means the fifty States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and associated territorial waters and airspace.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, including international trade obligations, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(1) authority granted by law to a department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(2) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

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Alcohols Considerably Cheaper Than Gas Already

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In an article on CBS San Fransisco, Consumer Watch says:
With fuel prices on the rise, drivers are looking for ways to save. If you have a flex fuel vehicle, you can switch over from gasoline to cheaper alternative fuels such as ethanol or alcohol. And you may be already driving one... 
According to Scientist David Bloom, flex fuel is better for the environment than traditional gasoline and is also cost efficient. Currently the price of alcohol is 90 cents less then gasoline. 
And as the popularity rises for flex fuel, there are Apple and Android apps for consumers to locate the nearest station. There are currently less than 2,000 flex fuel stations nationwide. 
Automakers including General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler have committed to 50 percent flex fuel cars within the next couple of years. But according to industry insiders, there are 10 million flex fuel cars on the road and many drivers are unaware they are already in one.

When the Open Fuel Standard Act has passed, it will become commonplace for cars to be flex fuel, and fuel stations with choices will be ubiquitous. And because of the bigger market and greater amount of competition, fuel prices will be even lower than they are now. Let's make this happen quickly. Start here to find out what you can do.

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The Ultimate Flex Fuel Car Engine?

In an announcement earlier this month about Pinnacle Engines signing a deal, we learn about "an engine that's ultra-efficient and compatible with most fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and biofuels." The announcement says:

Pinnacle Engines, developer of a four-stroke, spark-ignited, opposed-piston Cleeves cycle engine, is initially targeting low-horsepower applications like rickshaws in emerging markets for its "breakthrough ultra-efficient engine." The startup company has reportedly signed a licensing and joint-development agreement with an unnamed Asian vehicle manufacturer. Pinnacle says that its engine will power vehicles that are scheduled to hit the streets in the first quarter of 2013.

The core of Pinnacle's technology resides in its "Cleeves Cycle," named after James Montague (Monty) Cleeves, founder of the company. The Cleeves cycle can switch back and forth from the Otto cycle (constant volume combustion) to the Diesel cycle (constant pressure combustion) depending on operating conditions. The result, according to Pinnacle, is an engine that's ultra-efficient and compatible with most fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and biofuels. Read the rest>>>

This engine would certainly qualify as a flex-fuel vehicle!

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The Open Fuel Standard Act Has a Better Chance Than Previous Attempts

In an article in Ethanol Producer Magazine is an interview with Anne Korin and Gal Luft, who said that the Open Fuel Standard Act has a much better chance of being passed than previous attempts because it requires the cars to be able to burn both ethanol and methanol, instead of one or the other.

The author of the article, Holly Jessen, writes:
Laws mandating FFVs (flex-fuel vehicles) have not gone anywhere, Korin says, because legislators coming from states outside the Corn Belt have no reason to support ethanol FFVs. If methanol were added to the mix, however, FFVs would become much more attractive to legislators from states strong in coal and natural gas production. While most methanol is made from natural gas, China makes a large amount of it from coal. If the producers and supporters of corn, natural gas and coal were to join together to ask lawmakers to mandate FFVs, that would be a nearly unbeatable coalition, she says.

Congress is currently divided into two categories when it comes to ethanol — those that love it and those that hate it, Luft says. Often legislators from coal and natural gas producing states are among those that are very hostile toward ethanol. However, if all FFVs also operated on methanol, those states would be much more sympathetic to the goals of the Open Fuel Standard, Luft says, because their states would get a bigger piece of the liquid transportation fuels pie. And, so would ethanol. Read the whole article here.

The good news is, the Methanol Institute has come out in favor of the Open Fuel Standard Act (see their statement here).

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Methanol Institute Supports Open Fuel Standard Act

"The Open Fuel Standard Act is all about choice," said Methanol Institute Executive Director Gregory Dolan. "By ensuring that new cars can operate on something other than gasoline, Americans can reap the benefits of multiple alternative fuels. Methanol in particular is poised to play significant role in reducing our dependence on gasoline, as the most affordable, easily deployed, sustainable fuel available that would retail at the pump today for just $3.19 per gasoline equivalent gallon."

Methanol, also known as "wood alcohol," is produced primarily from natural gas, but is also produced from a wide range of renewable feedstocks such as biomass, agricultural waste, landfill gas, timber waste, and even waste CO2. As a qualifying alternative fuel in the Open Fuel Standard Act, clean burning methanol would provide a tremendous cost-savings to consumers while dramatically reducing harmful emissions from automobiles.

The U.S. pioneered methanol fuel blending in the 1980's and 1990's, putting 20,000 methanol flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) – cars capable of running on any combination of methanol (up to 85%) and gasoline – on the road. California's 200 million miles driving experience with methanol demonstrated that the technology for methanol flexible fuel capability is feasible, efficient and affordable, and that there are no technical hurdles to broad methanol adoption. Additionally, the costs for critical infrastructure such as methanol fueling pumps is low compared to other technologies, with the cost for a methanol compatible tank and pump just $60,000.

Today, producing new cars with gasoline, ethanol and methanol, or "GEM," flexible fuel capability would cost about $100 per vehicle. This modest investment provides huge dividends to the consumer. At today's prices, methanol costs only $1.04 per gallon wholesale. Adding distribution costs, state and federal taxes, and accounting for methanol's lower energy content than gasoline, the effective price for the consumer filling up with M-85 is just $3.19 per gallon. If we were to replace only 10% of our transportation fuel with methanol, American consumers would save $38 million every day, and over $14 billion every year while preventing the flow of billions of dollars for purchasing oil from overseas.

Further, providing consumers with alternative fuel choices like methanol, ethanol and biodiesel puts considerable competitive pressure on rising gasoline prices, making every fill-up cheaper, and reducing the impact that the high cost of oil has on every facet of consumer's lives.

Methanol has superior fire safety characteristics given that it does not ignite as easily as gasoline, burns with 1/8th the heat of gasoline, and is less likely to cause deadly fires. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that because of methanol's low volatility and 'inherent fire safety advantages,' a switch to methanol fuel could save hundreds of lives each year, and millions of dollars in property losses.

"The Methanol Institute is proud to support this bipartisan legislation," Dolan stated, "At a time of fragile economic recovery, this practical energy solution will provide considerable savings for consumers without the need for our federal government to put forth any investment."

CONTACT: Matt Roberts, 703-248-3636, mroberts@methanol.org

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Why Was Osama bin Laden Obsessed With America's Oil Supply?

Monday, May 23, 2011

In an article entitled, Osama's Oil Obsession, Daveed Gartenstin-Ross writes:

The killing of Osama bin Laden has provided the U.S. public with a stark reminder of the risks posed by America's dependence on foreign sources of oil. On May 20, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new bulletin outlining al Qaeda's interest in targeting oil and natural gas infrastructure based on evidence unearthed after the Navy SEAL raid that killed the terrorist chief. "In 2010, there was continuing interest by members of al Qaeda in targeting oil tankers and commercial infrastructure at sea," said a DHS spokesman...

Bin Laden long believed that undermining the U.S. economy was central to his war against the United States — an outlook that has permeated al Qaeda's ranks and will outlive him.

Al Qaeda views attacking the oil supply as a smart strategy for good reason: America's reliance on oil for its transportation needs makes it a commodity that, if disrupted or made unaffordable, will cause the U.S. economy to collapse.

The United States holds only 3 percent of conventional global oil reserves, yet uses 25 percent of the world's daily production. It imports more than 66 percent of its oil, amounting to a daily purchase of 12 million barrels of imported oil. A significant rise in the price of oil due to a terrorist attack would deal al Qaeda's main enemy a severe economic blow.

The potential of either al Qaeda or OPEC to seriously cripple our economy is the single most compelling reason for the Open Fuel Standard Act. We must end that vulnerability, and Open Fuel is the fastest, cheapest way to do it.

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Bin Laden-proofing America’s Economy

In an article in the Washington Times, Robert McFarlane discusses the next generation of al Qaeda militants, and the likelihood they will attack strategic oil terminals in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. He writes:
Several factors make these oil-processing terminals attractive targets. 
The first is that if any of them were seriously disabled, which very nearly happened five years ago at Abqaiq, as many as 4 million barrels of processing capacity per day would be taken off the market for up to a year — enough to push the global price of crude to more than $200 a barrel and keep it there for at least a year. Petroleum-based fuel, which enables 97 percent of our road, rail and air transport carriers to move goods from farms and factories to markets, is literally the lifeblood of the global economy. 
Without it, nothing moves, crops rot, showrooms are empty, consumers stay home, jobs are lost, paralysis sets in, and our economy grinds to a halt. In short, petroleum-based fuel has become a strategic commodity — a product that, if disrupted or sold at an extravagant price, can cause our economy and our way of life to collapse.

The American economy is vulnerable. And we can greatly reduce that vulnerability by passing the Open Fuel Standard Act. McFarlane asks:

What can we and the rest of the world do to prevent this plausible scenario from taking place? What we can and must do is reduce petroleum’s strategic importance to our economy by opening our fuel market to competition. Today, unlike the choices one can make when purchasing toothpaste, clothing, food, movies and virtually any product in our highly competitive marketplace, there is no competition when you go to the pump. Worse, of course, the price you pay for that fuel is set by a foreign cartel, many of whose members don’t like us very much.

The Open Fuel Standard Act essentially says that by 2017 automakers will no longer be allowed to make cars that run only on gasoline. You can help make this bill a reality, bringing an end to oil's monopoly and the vulnerability it brings to America's economy, and you can begin today: Actions You Can Take.

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Does the Open Fuel Standard Limit Our Choices or Expand Them?

In an article by Robert Werner, he criticizes the Open Fuel Standard Act, but he seems to have misunderstood the bill. He writes, "By 2016, the percentage of new alternative fuel vehicles increases to 80%; finally topping out at 95% in 2017. Step aside, Free Market, Big Government coming through! If only 'We The People' weren't so obtuse. Unwilling to do the right thing; passing over Chevy Volts in favor of Ford F-Series Pickups and Honda Accords. Shame, shame."

Werner got the dates and percentages right, but the bill will not abolish big trucks or Honda Accords. Those cars will be essentially the same, but with one difference: They will be capable of burning other fuels besides gasoline. The difference to the car is very minor. Only two changes are required: A fuel line that is not dissolved by alcohol, and a fuel injector that monitors your fuel and adjusts the carburetor to match the fuel mixture being burned at time.

So Werner is upset because choices will be taken away. The only problem with the argument is: No choices will be taken away. Choices are being added. You will still buy whatever car you want; but when you go to the pump, you'll be able to choose what fuel you prefer. Right now in almost every fuel station in America, your only choice is gasoline.

"Unburdened by frivolous things such as actual consumer demand, the Government will save us from our folly," writes Werner.

What he doesn't seem to understand is that we're in a Catch-22 and this bill will get us out of it. Not many want to buy a car that can burn a fuel that's unavailable. And not many investors want to build pump stations that provide fuels that hardly any cars can burn.

The Open Fuel Standard solves this problem. And it is riding the horse in the direction it's going anyway. The trend is already going toward flex fuels — there are more and more of them on the road every year.

What this bill does is speed up the process. By making the process a law with a deadline, investors can start building fuel pumps, investing in research, developing new and better fuels, because they can count on the fact that by 2017, 95% of new cars will be able to burn those fuels.

Werner makes a good point about free markets: Ideally the government would not control business in this way. And if there was no special urgency, I would say, "Let the market decide." But we are under a time pressure, and the market — while trending that way — is going too slow. Every year that goes by without this bill is another 17 million cars on American roads that won't be able to burn anything but gasoline. And each car is on the road for about 16 years.

And all the time those cars are on the road, we will be forced by our lack of choice to pour an unimaginable amount of wealth into the coffers of people who are dedicated to destroying America (and who are enthusiastically using that money for the purpose). OPEC raises and lowers its production, repeatedly crippling America's economy. We must end our vulnerability, and the Open Fuel Standard is the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to do it.

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Question: What About Natural Gas?

The Open Fuel Standard Act essentially says car-makers will no longer be able to make a car that can run only on gasoline. By 2017, ninety-five percent of all cars will be in that category, if this bill becomes law. But that category includes cars that can run on anything but gasoline only. A car that runs on natural gas fulfills the requirements of the bill.

Probably the most popular cars will be those that can take multiple fuels, and in any combination, such as methanol, ethanol, and gasoline. And methanol can be made from natural gas. Here's an excerpt from the article, Fueled Again:
A game-changing alcohol that could be used in flexible fuel vehicles is methanol, also known as wood alcohol. While ethanol can only be made from agricultural products like corn, sugar cane and, assuming technological success, from cellulosic biomass, methanol can be made from all of them, plus an array of other carbon-rich energy sources with which the United States is well endowed.

Today, about 90 percent of the worldwide methanol supply is produced from methane, the main component of natural gas. Technologies to produce methanol from coal are at hand, and a commercial-scale plant in the United States now produces it for about fifty cents per gallon (methanol has about half the energy of gasoline, so this equates to about one dollar per gasoline-equivalent gallon).

Read more...

Question: Shouldn't We Keep Government Out of This and Let Market Forces Determine What Happens?

The mandate question is a big one, and for good reason. I don't like mandates either. But mandates could justifiably be used under some circumstances, and this is one of those. Our government has a responsibility to break up monopolies that are harmful to our citizens. Certainly OPEC qualifies as such. They use their cartel to unfairly control the price of oil in a way that profoundly harms the American economy (here's how they do it).

But we cannot sue them. We need their oil. Why do we need it? Because 97 percent of all transportation relies on oil. So our entire economy rests on oil. We can't risk distrupting our fuel supply, and they would certainly retaliate with another oil embargo.

However, the government can break up this monopoly in another way — with the Open Fuel Standard. Right now most of us, when we want to drive, have only one choice: gasoline. It is a monopoly. And the only reason we have no choice is that our cars can only burn one fuel.

Automakers are slowly shifting over to flex fuel vehicles already, but going too slow. By the time they get around to it, OPEC will have bled us dry. Taxpayers bailed out American automakers. They owe us. And this is a very small thing for them to do. In fact, Ford and GM already make plenty of flex fuel cars which they sell to China and Brazil. Brazil had a flex fuel mandate awhile ago. It has been good for their economy and made them much less vulnerable to recessions caused by OPEC's destructive manipulaton of oil prices. And Brazil went from an oil importing country to an oil exporting country.

Right now, the United States is in a Catch-22. Automakers don't want to make cars for which there are no fuel stations. And fuel stations do not want to add pumps for a fuel few cars can use. The Open Fuel Standard gets around this impass, and makes it happen quickly. If we're going to do it, let's get it over with and get on with it. As soon as the bill passes, the whole industry will begin shifting over, confident that there will be a growing market for their fuel.

The following is an excerpt from Anne Korin's testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs which addresses the mandate issue:

In a perfect world government would not need to intervene in the energy market, but in a time of war, the United States is taking an unacceptable risk by leaving the problem to be solved by the invisible hand. This is especially true since the energy market is anything but free. It is manipulated by a cartel, heavily rigged in favor of the status quo, and, as the case of the ethanol tariff shows, riddled with protectionism.

Every year that passes without Congressional action to ensure that new cars sold in America are flex fuel vehicles is another year in which 17 million gasoline-only cars start their 17-year life on U.S. roads, further binding us to foreign oil. On the grounds of national security and in the interest of stemming the hemorrhaging of our economy, Congress should take swift action to require that new vehicles sold in the United States are flexible fuel vehicles. Such an Open Fuel Standard would level the playing field and promote free competition among diverse energy suppliers. Choosing not to embrace an Open Fuel Standard, is choosing to preserve oil’s monopoly in the transportation sector, and with it OPEC’s growing stranglehold over the global economy.

Read more:

Breaking Monopolies is One of Government's Most Important Responsibilities

Why You Should Support the Open Fuel Standard Even if You Are Against Mandates in Principle.

Does a Federal Open Fuel Standard Violate Free Market Principles?

Read more...

What About Electric Cars?

The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 requires that 95% of each new car is capable of burning gasoline, methanol and ethanol (or any combination of them) by 2017 — or the car can be electric, hydrogen, natural gas, bio-diesel, or anything else that doesn't burn gasoline.

The purpose of the bill is to create opportunities for other fuels (or electricity) to compete with gasoline. Electric cars are great, but at the moment they're expensive. The most likely big sellers will be cars that can run on gasoline or methanol or ethanol or any combination of them.

But the choice of how to fulfill the requirements of the bill is really up to the automaker, which means ultimately it's up to the consumer, because the cars consumers buy will determine which cars automakers focus on.

The bill language specifically states, 50, 80, 95 percent of the cars need to be flex fuel "or qualified," which means if GM or any other automaker wants to go 40 percent flex fuel and 10 percent electric to hit their 50 percent marker, that's perfectly fine.

In other words, automakers will have a choice when it comes to how they will hit their percentages. Not all automakers will do it the same way. Competition and market forces will drive the process, so jobs can be created in every market sector as a result of this bill, because a "winner" or "loser" is not chosen or mandated by the legislation, and which means the market can decide how and where it will go, as long as the cars do not rely on gasoline as their only fuel.

Why no longer allow cars that burn only gasoline? There are several good reasons.

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How to Achieve Oil Independence

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This four minute video explains what the Open Fuel Standard Act will do and why we urgently need to get it passed. Please share it with your friends. This is a vital new bill that must be passed, the sooner the better.



Click here to find out what you do to help the bill become law.

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Oil Prices Will Probably Keep Rising

Tony Daltorio writes, "According to the International Energy Agency, the oil cartel (OPEC) will make $1 trillion in export revenues this year, a new all-time high. Talk about a gusher!...Oil now costs more than $100 a barrel. And oil production has been on the rise as well."

That's bad enough. But it gets worse:

"Unfortunately for consumers, higher oil prices are here to stay. The Institute of International Finance notes that Saudi Arabia will only be able to balance its budget if oil prices are at $115 a barrel in the future. And it isn’t the only one that needs prices to climb further; other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council are announcing similar spending plans. Kuwait, for one, will issue a $4,000 one-off bonus per citizen and free food staples for more than a year.

"Such social spending will press oil prices higher still. It will also reduce available funds for state-owned oil companies to invest into adding future production capacity. And as governments in the region continue to feel under threat from social unrest, they are less and less likely to cut into public energy subsidies."

We can do something about this: Get off the oil standard. We need to pass the Open Fuel Standard Act and begin to allow other liquid fuels to compete with gasoline. And we need to do it now. You can help by starting here: Actions You Can Take.

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How Does OPEC Control the Price of Oil?

In the article, Achieving Energy Victory, Robert Zubrin writes:


an OPEC meeting
To understand how we can break away from oil, we must first understand the workings of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the cartel arrangement that has fabulously multiplied the Saudis’ petroleum revenue stream and the power that goes along with it. 
Founded in 1960, OPEC is an open conspiracy in which representatives of the rulers of a dozen kleptocracies (Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela) get together at periodic meetings and decide what the world price for oil should be, and then assign production quotas to each so as to force the price to that level. This is very different from the way business is conducted in a free market, and it produces very different results.

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Track the Open Fuel Standard Bill

Rep. John Shimkus [R-IL19] introduced the bill. And these are the cosponsors so far:

Madeleine Bordallo [D-GU]
John Barrow [D-GA12]
Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD6]
Howard Berman [D-CA28]
Earl Blumenauer [D-OR3]
Leonard Boswell [D-IA3]
Bruce Braley [D-IA1]
Dan Burton [R-IN5]
André Carson [D-IN7]
Tom Cole [R-OK4]
Bob Dold [R-IL10]
Eliot Engel [D-NY17]
Steve Israel [D-NY2]
Henry Johnson [D-GA4]
Steve King [R-IA5]
David Loebsack [D-IA2]
James McDermott [D-WA7]
Collin Peterson [D-MN7]
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL18]
Dennis Ross [R-FL12]
Allyson Schwartz [D-PA13]
Brad Sherman [D-CA27]
Clifford Stearns [R-FL6]
Robert Turner [R-NY9]
Allen West [R-FL22]

Keep an eye on the bill, get email updates, and see who is cosponsoring the bill at GovTrack.us. The last update said: "This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills and resolutions first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate."

The bill would "amend chapter 329 of title 49, United States Code, to ensure that new vehicles enable fuel competition so as to reduce the strategic importance of oil to the United States."

Our most important task right now is to get more cosponsors for the bill. Contact your representative (here's how) and get everyone you know to contact their representatives.

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Help Break Petroleum’s Monopoly on Transportation Fuel

Senator Dan Lederman
The following is a letter by Senator Dan Lederman. 

I am excited to share information about important legislation aimed at promoting U.S. energy independence that was introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Open Fuel Standard Act, which has been designated as H.R. 1687, is sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), and cosponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY). It has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which Congressman Shimkus is a senior member.

H.R. 1687 would put our country on a path to genuine consumer choice at the gas pump by requiring that new cars are able to run on non-petroleum fuels like ethanol, in addition to petroleum based fuels.

If passed, the bill would require that by 2014, 50 percent of new cars sold in the U.S. would have this ‘flex-fuel’ capacity, by 2016, 80 percent of new cars would be flex-fuel ready, and by 2017, 95 percent of new cars would comply with the flex-fuel standard.

Last week, an Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing on “the challenges and opportunities for alternative transportation fuels and vehicles,” and it is hoped that action to advance H.R. 1687 by passing it out of committee and bringing it to the full House will occur soon.

I am writing this to ask for your help. Please take a moment to call, email or write your Congressman and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1687, the Open Fuel Standard Act.

Information about how to contact a Congressman can be found by clicking here or by calling 202-224-3121.

When discussing this legislation, remember the following points:

Until consumers have viable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel for their cars, our nation will never attain energy independence.
It’s estimated that our dependence on foreign oil results in $600 billion every year flowing from American consumers to hostile nations. This is unacceptable. 
H.R. 1687 will spur the availability of alternative options for consumers and deprive oil exporting countries – many of which are hostile to the U.S. – of leverage over us. 
By committing to this transition, we will incentivize investment in alternative fuels technology.
Brazil has shown that this can be done: An aggressive effort there caused the share of vehicles with flex-fuel capacity to surge from zero to 70 percent in just three years.

Advancing pro-energy independence policy is a core commitment of mine and I hope you join me to advocate for legislation that widens the availability of flex-fuel cars with the aim of reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil as the overwhelming source of fuel for our nation’s transportation.

- Senator Dan Lederman

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