More Things You Can Do

Friday, May 25, 2012

If you've already called your representative, and you've subscribed to these updates and "liked" us on Facebook, and you've informed yourself and are sharing information with your friends and family about the Open Fuel Standard, and you want to do more, here are some ideas:

1. Use an E85 fuel-station finder and visit your local fuel stations that sell alternative fuels and ask them to hand out fliers to their customers — fliers that inform the customers about the Open Fuel Standard. Those customers are already fans of alcohol fuels, and would probably appreciate a greater proliferation of alcohol fuel pumps. And the owners of the station would appreciate a greater number of cars coming off the assembly line capable of burning their fuel.

2. Contact the employees and employers of methanol and ethanol facilities and let them know about the Open Fuel Standard Act. Bring them fliers. They are natural allies.

3. Create a PDF document that people can use. Make a one-page flier to copy and hand out. Make sure it tells people about how they can help, and tell them to subscribe to updates at Send the PDF to us and we can make it available to others. About half way down this page are some PDFs you can use right now.

4. Make YouTube videos about the Open Fuel Standard Act, telling people why it's important and what they can do to help it pass.

5. Use your six degrees of separation to contact Vinod Khosla and Warren Buffett, and ask them to support the Open Fuel Standard Act. Vinod Khosla has been an outspoken promoter of alcohol fuels, and Warren Buffet owns 39 million shares of Walmart and Walmart has considered putting E85 fuel pumps at their locations, so it would not only be good for America and the economy, it would be good for Walmart if more cars were flex fuel capable. Find these men, or find people who know these men, and make them aware of the new legislation. Urge them to help make it happen.

6. Contact the service clubs in your area — Rotary, Kiwanas, etc., and ask to show a film. They usually have presenters at their regular meetings speak for about 20 minutes, and they're always looking for speakers. Show them one or more of these videos, and open it up to a Q and A session afterwards.

7. If you are a member of any group, read Turning Oil Into Salt, and report your summary to the group.

8. Write letters to the editor of your local paper. Get people talking about it.

9. Use Google News Alerts for "Open Fuel Standard" and "ethanol" and "flex fuel" and "gas prices" and make comments on blogs and articles about it. Help educate people about the subject.

10. Add your Members of Congress to your email address book and the speed dial of your phone. Get their contact information here. Make sure they understand what the Open Fuel Standard will do for your state or your region, and what it will do for the United States.

11. Click here to get updates from the Fuel Freedom Foundation and like them on Facebook. Share their posts with your friends and family. 

12. Show the film Freedom at any meeting you attend regularly (church group, service club, whatever). You could show this short YouTube video and have a discussion about it. You could give them a presentation about the Open Fuel Standard.

13. Make a school project or presentation about the Open Fuel Standard. Encourage your kids to do a school project. More education on the fundamentals and consequences of fuel competition are desperately needed.


Big Oil's Anti-E15 Campaign Filled with Gross Exaggerations and Misinformation

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The people who rammed lead down our throats for nearly a century, and denied it was harmful, have a new story to peddle

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

AUTO CENTRAL - May 16, 2012: A bit more than 18-months ago, the EPA issued a study finding and held a teleconference to announce that after evaluation they determined that E15 engine fuel (15% ethanol mixed with 85% gasoline) had the same effects on spark-induced internal combustion engine vehicles manufactured after 2007 as E10 engine fuel (10% ethanol mixed with 90% gasoline), which in a word were "none."

   • Listen to the complete October 2010 EPA press conference

The oil and gasoline industry, along with all their paid politicians and media personalities became apoplectic. They issued press release after press release denouncing the EPA announcement in which they repeated their tired rhetoric about how harmful ethanol can be to automobile engines and challenged the EPA's authority to take on the study and then pronounce E15 ready for prime time. Big oil claimed that the EPA did not do sufficient testing and that their results were premature. They threatened, among other things, that they would sue the EPA.

Four months later, in January 2011, the EPA extended their E15 pronouncement to include all passenger car and light truck gasoline-engine vehicles manufactured for model years 2001-2006, thereby giving the green light to all such vehicles manufactured from 2001 on.

   • Read more about EPA's January 2011 Waiver

The oil-gasoline lobby had a sh-t fit. They re-circulated all the press releases they used four months before, added some new vitriolic condemnations, and made good on the promise to sue the EPA.

Again, Big Oil claimed that millions of vehicles would be damaged and that the EPA waiver was made without sufficient testing and that it was premature.

Today, the American Petroleum Institute and two auto manufacturer associations held their own teleconference to officially announce the finding of a study that they preliminarily released several days ago. This study, which was conducted by a private organization called Coordinating Research Council, studied the use of E15 in eight vehicles and found that two of the vehicles suffered from pitted valves, leaks, and loss of compression. A former member of CRC joined the Big Oil panel to present these results and explain the technical aspects. Using the study's results the group unanimously stated that their earlier criticism about the EPA results was correct, that the EPA was premature in issuing the waiver.

   • Listen to the 39 minute press conference on YouTube

Not only did I listen to the press conference live, I participated in it. In my opinion this study and its findings are irrelevant, immaterial, off-base, wrong, and/or entirely fraudulent. The study and its findings continue a long history of oil industry misdeeds that were and are designed to keep America and most of the world enslaved to gasoline.

Let me take this point-by-point:

The EPA Waiver

The EPA took on the study of E15 because they were requested to do so by members of the ethanol industry. They didn't do it because of some New World Order socialist conspiracy to control our lives (I acknowledge that the EPA has been guilty of this, but this study didn't originate with them). Either because the request originated from an outside source, or because the EPA lacks the authority to mandate the use of E15, they did not mandate its use, they merely made a recommendation that it could be used without undue harm. They also recommended that additional warning labels be placed at filling stations to alert consumers to the fact that this fuel from an E15 pump was E15 fuel, as compared to E85, regular gasoline (E10), diesel, plain water or compressed air. Currently there are other similar labels on station pumps, so this label wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

The EPA's study was not conducted unreasonably quickly. The original request to test was submitted in March 2009. The preliminary findings were released in September 2010 - 18 months later. That period of time is at least as long as the study time conducted by CRC to dispute the EPA findings.

In today's anti-E15 press conference the Big Oil spokespeople stressed that CRC's study was conducted by experts. They used the word "experts" again and again, as if to say that the EPA relied merely on the opinion of monkeys. The EPA's study was based upon the work done by the government's testing laboratories - the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Argonne National Laboratory. I tried to ask the panel if they felt that the two U.S. labs were less expert or if they didn't have experts, but I was cut off before I could ask the question.

I can assure you that both government laboratories have experts, too. Oh, and by the way, when the EPA did the test they also tested E20 just see if perhaps E15 represented some invisible line that if broken would have disasterous effects. E20 proved as harmless to the tested engines as E15. How do I know this? During the October 2010 press conference, I asked if they tested any other blend levels at the same time. You can hear it for yourself if you listen to the press conference via the link above. (Argonne and NREL have actually been studying ethanol for years.)

So, knowing about the E20 test, you might ask, "Why didn't the EPA recommend E20, too?" I also asked that question. The answer was that they (the EPA) was only asked to test E15, so that's all they are responding to. The E20, as I mention above, was just used as a control of sorts. The significance here is that if the EPA wanted to force the evil ethanol monster on us, as API contends, they would have gone straight to E20. That information is only available to the world because the question was asked.

In addition, to support the findings of the government labs, Ricardo Laboratories - perhaps the worlds most prestigious private testing lab - conducted their own independent study of E15 and not only arrived at the same EPA conclusions, but they broadened their acceptance of E15 to include vehicles manufactured as far back as the 1994*.

   • Read about the Ricardo Study

Moreover, ethanol is not a new engine fuel. In fact it was used in the very first internal combustion vehicle in the 1820s. Up until the time when General Motors scientists invented the use of leaded-gasoline, ethanol was considered the better fuel. What the GM scientists sought to achieve with the invention of leaded-gasoline was a fuel that mimicked the performance qualities of ethanol. Gasoline didn't become the dominant fuel because it was better than ethanol, it became the dominant fuel because GM, the world's largest auto maker, found a way to make billions of dollars of profit by promoting their new patented product. GM was given a mighty assistance in achieving fuel dominance by partnering with John Rockefeller's oil-gasoline companies. Rockefeller then delivered the fait accompli to the contest when he gave millions of dollars in bribes to politicians to vote for Prohibition, virtually wiping ethanol from the field of competition.

Ethanol, and various blends of ethanol-gasoline, have been studied, tested and used in America and around the world for more than 150 years. To say that studies using ethanol are premature is as much of a joke as when the oil-gasoline industry and its political lackeys told us that leaded-gasoline was not harmful (Joe Biden once testified before Congress that leaded-gasoline was not harmful to humans).

Pitting Valves, Leaks and Loss of Compression

The anti-ethanol crowd likes to say that ethanol damages engines. They say it as if gasoline had no negative effect on engines. The panel members in today's anti E15 teleconference repeated this over and over. The truth is that gasoline damages engines. Gasoline causes pitted valves; gasoline can leak, engines that run on gasoline can experience compression loss. If you don't believe me, drive by any engine shop and look to see if they are working on any vehicle engines. These aren't engines that have been using ethanol, these engines are damaged because engines deteriorate over time, and gasoline damages engines.

Furthermore, if it wasn't for mixing ethanol with gasoline any higher compression engine (all modern engines) would blow apart because of the knock caused by straight gasoline. During the years that tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline the knock was quieted. When leaded-gasoline was finally legislated out of existence, the options were to go back to mixing in ethanol or methyl tert-butyl ether, aka MTBE. When it was finally realized that MTBE was another poison, and it too was eliminated, the only real solution reverted to the original solution, ethanol.

I've run across a few knuckleheads online who promote freedom of choice by saying that we Americans should be allowed to choose to not use gasoline with ethanol. It makes me laugh because if their gasoline didn't have any ethanol in it their engines would really experience damage. By the way, this freedom of choice has nothing to do with the Open Fuel Act, which truly would give us a choice in deciding which fuel to use.

Gasoline Engines Not Made for E15

Perhaps the only comment I heard during today's press conference that I agreed with was when one of the speakers said that gasoline engines were not made to run on E15. That statement is exactly correct. However it's a completely irrelevant and immaterial point to make.

The fact that a gasoline-optimized engine can run on any other fuel other than gasoline is absolutely remarkable. It's a testament to how fantastic ethanol is. Just think: if we were ever faced with the apocalyptic future, as envisioned for example in the Mad Max Road Warrior movie, we wouldn't have to hijack remnants of gasoline to run our gasoline-powered motor vehicles, we would just make ethanol out of almost anything regardless of where we are. We wouldn't need to drill thousands of feet below the surface with expensive equipment, we could simply ferment whatever grows and then use a stone age technology to distill it into alcohol.

The serious point I'm making here, and it's a point that most people overlook, is that ethanol isn't the perfect fuel for a gasoline-optimized engine because the engine is optimized to run on gasoline, not because ethanol is not as good or better. In an engine that is optimized to run on ethanol (with proper fuel injectors, appropriate spark timing, and greater piston compression), ethanol will perform equal to or better than a gasoline-optimized engine. Furthermore, if you tried to use pure gasoline or E10 in the ethanol-optimized engine your results would probably not equal the results of pure ethanol or a high ethanol-gasoline blend in a gasoline-optimized engine.

What we need is a fuel whose source and availability is not dependent upon foreign interests; a fuel whose success doesn't contribute to the war chests of terrorists and terrorist regimes; a fuel that doesn't poison us; a fuel that can be produced inexpensively; a fuel that can be produced in any geographic region. And we need a fuel like this right now, not 50 years in the future. Ethanol is that fuel. Ethanol's cousin, methanol, also meets these qualifications, particularly if the methanol is produced from easily sourced waste materials (not from CNG). Being able to power our vehicles from a fuel produced from an increasingly endless supply of human excrement is better than any Star Trek fantasy we can imagine, because it's doable right now.

As The Auto Channel opined in June 2008, we need legislation that mandates the end of new gasoline-powered vehicles. If you live in fear of a New World Order controlled by the people who occupy the United Nations building in Manhattan, you should be equally afraid of the people who occupy the OPEC headquarters in Geneva and their minions who are housed in the API office building in Washington, DC.

• SEE ALSO: No New Gasoline-Powered Vehicles...

* Why did Ricardo Labs only okay E15 for vehicles manufactured since 1994? In the early 1990's nearly all auto manufacturers changed certain metal and rubber components that were susceptible to corrosion from ethanol, in order to allow ethanol to be used without any harm. Typically any ethanol-gasoline blends with higher ethanol levels are not recommended for use in cars manufactured prior to about 1991-92. In any event, the great preponderance of vehicles on the road today were manufactured after the mid-1990's.


Ethanol Keeps Gasoline Prices $1.09 Per Gallon Cheaper

Friday, May 18, 2012

Excerpted from Food and Fuel America: May 15th, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development released a study by economists at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University that examined the impact of increased ethanol consumption on wholesale gasoline prices. The study, authored by Professors Dermot Hayes and Xiaodong Du, concluded the following:

1. In 2011, ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon.

2. Regular grade gasoline prices averaged $3.52 per gallon in 2011, but would have been closer to $4.60 per gallon without the inclusion of more than 13 billion gallons of lower-priced ethanol.

3. The average American household consumed 1,124 gallons of gasoline in 2011, meaning ethanol reduced average household spending at the pump by more than $1,200.

4. Since 2000, ethanol has kept gasoline prices an average of $0.29 per gallon cheaper than they otherwise would have been.

5. Based on the $0.29-per-gallon average annual savings, ethanol has helped save American drivers and the economy more than $477 billion in gasoline expenditures since 2000 — an average of $39.8 billion a year.

Read an abstract and the full report here (PDF file).


High Oil Prices Take Their Toll

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This is from The Week Magazine:

"Americans' personal financial comfort is at its lowest level since Gallup began measuring it a decade ago. 39% of Americans say they do not have enough money to live comfortably, up from 34% last year and 24% in 2002."

We could turn this around now with the Open Fuel Standard bill.


Engel Open Fuel Amendment Accepted Into Another Bill

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Congressman Eliot Engel
Congressman Eliot Engel’s amendment requiring the use of alternative fuel vehicles by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, and related agencies, was adopted in the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill. The amendment requires 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 and codifies the Presidential Memorandum on Federal Fleet Performance issued last year by President Barack Obama.

Watch YouTube video of Rep. Engel’s comments from the House floor here.

Rep. Engel said, “Our economy and our national security are threatened by our dependence on foreign oil. An Open Fuel Standard will help us to get off our oil addiction. This is now the fifth appropriations bill where my amendment was successfully adopted — it was previously accepted into the FY 2012 bills for Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security — and I intend to introduce it into the remaining spending bills.  Each federal agency possesses a fleet of vehicles to which this could be applied.”

He added, “These amendments serve as further encouragement for the federal government to meet the requirements mandated in the President’s Memorandum.”

Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Open Fuel Standard Act (H.R. 1687), co-sponsored by Rep. Engel, and introduced with Republican sponsor Rep. Shimkus (R-Ill.), would require 50 percent of new automobiles in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, to operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels.

“Our transportation sector is by far the biggest reason we send $600 billion per year to hostile nations — from Iran to Venezuela, and others — to pay for oil at ever-increasing prices. America does not need to be beholden to foreign nations for transportation fuel.  Alternative technologies exist, and if implemented broadly will allow any alternative fuel to be used in our fleet. This will encourage the development of domestic energy resources, and the industry and jobs that will come along with these alternative sources. It is a win-win situation — bolster our own economy and domestic employment opportunities while ceasing to funnel billions of dollars needlessly to other countries,” said Rep. Engel.

According to the General Services Administration (GSA), the Federal Government operates the largest fleet of light duty vehicles in America — over 660,000 vehicles with approximately 43,400 subject to this amendment.


Researchers Produce First Cellulosic Ethanol From Corn Kernel

Researchers at the NCERC today (12 May 2012) announced that they have successfully produced ethanol from the cellulosic portion of the corn kernel.

“This research is demonstrated proof of the viability of ‘generation 2.0 ethanol,’” NCERC Director John Caupert said. “By utilizing existing technologies readily available in the commercial marketplace, the NCERC was able to produce a biofuel that builds upon the strengths of conventional corn ethanol and the promise of cellulosic ethanol, thus making bolt-on cellulosic ethanol a reality.”

Caupert added that the potential for cellulosic ethanol has significant immediate and long-term impacts on the biofuels industry generally and the ethanol industry specifically.

“Any of the 211 existing ethanol plants in the United States could be retrofitted with existing bolt-on technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn without the need to build new facilities,” Caupert said. “This translates into opportunities for jobs and economic development, particularly in rural areas.

According to the Illinois Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry provides more than 4,000 full-time jobs with an economic impact exceeding $5.29 billion in Illinois alone. There are currently 14 ethanol plants online in the state.

NCERC Assistant Director of Biological Research Sabrina Trupia emphasized the importance of the demonstration in future research opportunities.

“This is a significant milestone with immediate industry impact, but producing cellulosic ethanol from corn bran is also proof that cellulosic ethanol could be produced at NCERC utilizing any cellulosic feedstock,” Trupia said. “From a research perspective, this is only the first step in a very exciting road toward a future of energy security.”

“It’s the culmination of four years of activity here at the Center, and a shining example of a public-private partnership that works,” Caupert said. “With our expanded fermentation capabilities, the Center is actively seeking industry, academic, and government agency partnerships.”


Guerrilla Marketing

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Click on image to see it larger.
We've made two images to share on Facebook (one to the right here, and one at the bottom of this post) and when we were done, we realized these could also be used as miniature fliers to post on bulletin boards to help raise awareness of the Open Fuel Standard.

The only thing standing in the way of a renaissance of the American spirit, a revitalization of the economy, a wealth of new American jobs, a new era in national security, and a cleaner environment is more people finding out that this bill exists. The only thing missing is public awareness. Our efforts at the grassroots level greatly assist our lobbyists hard at work in DC.

Even posting a little flier has the potential to make a difference. Think of it this way: Every person we get to sign up for updates is another possible center of influence. They'll get the updates and many of them will forward the updates to their friends, some of whom will subscribe and begin forwarding to their friends. When we hit a critical mass, we'll be able get all the co-signers we need to get this bill passed.

Please copy and post these images on your social network. And please download this PDF document and print out a bunch of these little fliers and post them at your grocery store, at your community center, at your local college, and anywhere else you see a bulletin board. Let's make this happen.

Link to PDF: Tiny Tweak Could Restart Economy.

Click on image to see it larger.


New Co-Sponsor: Representative Michael Fitzpatrick

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick
Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick is a Republican Congressman from the 8th district of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Republican Policy Committee, and the newest co-sponsor of the Open Fuel Standard Act.

Pennsylvania is rich in coal, natural gas, and biomass — all of which are potential sources of methanol. Rep. Fitzpatrick understands that his district, his state, and his country will all benefit from the economic, employment, and security benefits of this bill.

If Rep. Fitzpatrick is your representative, please let him know how much you appreciate his support of this important legislation, and encourage him to help us enlighten his fellow Congressmen. Contact him here by phone or email. Follow him on Twitter here.

If you've already contacted your Members of Congress and are looking for something else you can do to move this bill into law, we have some ideas for you. Get started here.


Breaking OPEC's Stranglehold

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guy Rodgers, the Executive Director for ACT! for America, wrote an article about the Open Fuel Standard which was published in the Wall Street Journal. The article is entitled Duel-Fuel: Driving With Methanol. Rogers wrote:

In James Freeman's "Weekend Interview with Aubrey McClendon" (April 28), Mr. McClendon states that natural gas could break the stranglehold OPEC has on our economy in 10 years. Actually, it could be sooner than that — if Congress acts on legislation titled the Open Fuel Standard Act.

This bill requires that, within five years, 80% of all new cars manufactured for sale in the U.S. be duel-fuel capable, which includes methanol. The cost to do this would only be about $70 to $100 per car. The methanol requirement is what is unique. Methanol can be made from everything from garbage to coal to natural gas. Given America's abundant coal reserves and the explosion of extractable natural gas reserves, we could see a day in the not-too-distant future when most drivers choose to fuel their cars with methanol made from domestically produced resources.

As Robert Zubrin, author of "Energy Victory," has demonstrated, at today's spot prices for oil and methanol, the typical driver would save 40% using methanol. Thus, the Open Fuel Standard would be good for family budgets, good for our economy and good for our national security. All that is necessary is for Congress to take action.


Concerns About OFS Engineered Out of Existence Already

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tom Stricker
Toyota's Tom Stricker spoke at MIT about the Open Fuel Standard Act. You can read more about Stricker's presentation here. You can watch a video of the presentation here. When I asked ACT! for America's National Field Director, Kelly Cook, what he thought about Stricker's presentation, he said:

He’s shilling for big oil. One only has to look at Brazil to realize all his concerns have been engineered out of existence already.

If Toyota doesn’t want to make dual fuel cars, Ford and GM will, as they are in Brazil.

As far as the “very robust” comments, then why did Formula 1 racing employ alcohol fuels for so long? It was the fuel of choice for decades, especially because it wasn’t as combustible in crashes and yet had superior performance levels.

It’s this type of opinion from major auto companies that will slow us down. We have the facts on our side.


Open Fuel Standard Discussed at MIT

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tom Striker
Toyota's Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Tom Stricker, spoke about the Open Fuel Standard at MIT April 18th. He was against it. He said it would cost a lot of money for car makers to produce so many flex fuel vehicles so quickly and there isn't enough ethanol anyway. His brief mention of methanol dismissed it as unavailable.

Gal Luft was at the event and asked Stricker a question: "How many of Toyota's cars sold in Brazil are Flex Fuel Vehicles?"

Stricker answered, "All of them."

Enough said.

Read about the event: Our Gasoline-Free Future.
Read more about Brazil.
Read more about methanol.


Why I Support This Mission

Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting a bill through Congress is an uphill slog. Their timeline is much slower than most Americans' attention spans, the partisan gamesmanship can be demoralizing, and there's no guarantee that even a smart, well-crafted bill such as the Open Fuel Standard Act will make it through the powerful divergent interests that legislators in various states represent and are in some cases beholden to.

So why do I invest valuable time into this work that I could be spending watching a game or out hiking on a beautiful spring day?

I think about the young Army Captain I used to run with down at Ft. Huachuca whose leg was shredded and lungs burned by an IED in Iraq. I think about the Cavalry Scout whose Post-Traumatic Stress kept him self-medicated in his house and who was hyper-vigilant about being ambushed while driving with me down the streets of Philadelphia. I think about the Marine Infantryman who did three tours in Iraq and who's struggled with alcohol and a lost sense of community. I think about veteran friends who have attempted suicide because of things they've seen or done or wish they would have done instead to save members of their unit or innocent civilians. I think about what I could or should have done differently to contribute more to the mission and to them.

I know this bill isn't going to magically fix our foreign policy problems. I know they're complicated, and I know that it will probably be decades before we can extricate ourselves from the Middle East or see critical political and economic reforms happen that will stabilize the region.

But I do believe that if we can introduce competition at the pump, it will not only help us but it will also pressure the governments of the region to diversify their economies and in the process hopefully broaden economic opportunity and the political representation that comes with it. Less reliance on them will reduce tensions and enable a more flexible national security posture, providing more space for diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution.

This legislation is not a guarantee against future conflicts but it's a much-needed step to address the systemic tension and instability that has become a conflict driver in the region. I sincerely believe that we owe it to our troops to get it passed.

Thomas J. Buonomo is a former Military Intelligence Officer and 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.


How to Get Your Elected Representatives to Act

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The power of ordinary citizens to make things happen in Congress boils down to one thing: influence over how constituents vote. Money helps, and corporate lobbyists and campaign donors certainly have a lot of it, but the influence of a well-organized constituency can and has trumped the power of corporate coffers.

The key is to make the issue you're most passionate about a re-election campaign issue. Let your legislators know, politely but resolutely, through emails, phone calls, in-person visits in your district, demonstrations covered by your local news station, and the opinion pages of your local newspaper that energy security and economic growth are the decisive factors that will determine how you vote in the upcoming congressional elections. Let them know that you want decision-makers in office who represents the interests of their constituents, and you want them to demonstrate their commitment to voters this summer by co-sponsoring the Open Fuel Standard Act.

The key is to be targeted and strategic in your communications by focusing on who you have voting power over and demonstrating that many of their constituents are paying attention to the decisions they make on a particular issue.  

Legislators are rational actors — they base their decisions in part based on what they think is best for their constituents and the country and in part on how much it will help or hurt them in their next election. If they made decisions based purely on principle in every instance without compromise, they likely wouldn't remain in office long enough to be able to accomplish their long term goals. Like it or not, the balance of power on any given issue is a necessary consideration for them.  

Your goal is to convince them that if they support a bill that is currently being opposed by a powerful array of private domestic and foreign interests, they will have the firm and enduring support of their constituents no matter how much money the former throw into manipulative campaign advertising and other political tactics designed to get you to vote against your own interests.  It's about shifting the balance of power in your favor by convincing your fellow citizens that this is an issue worth investing time into on behalf of their unemployed friends and family, our troops who have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our nation's future economic prosperity and national security.   

If you're new to this game and would like training on how to become a more effective policy advocate, contact us and we'll teach you the skills you need. It's going to take an army of grassroots advocates across the country to make this happen but if we work hard and smart enough together, there's no doubt we can accomplish our mission.   

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 and national security policy.

Read more: Tips For Being An Effective Grassroots Activist.


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