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

Monday, May 23, 2011

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.


Anonymous,  June 30, 2011 at 7:32 AM  

Werner: a superficial author that misinterprets important reform.

Open Fuel Standard for the win.

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