The United States needs no greater reminder of the hidden costs of our addiction to foreign oil then the fundamentalist government of Iran's threatening to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway where a fifth of the world’s oil shipments pass every day.
Our nation imagines itself the most free and secure in the world, yet just the threat of blockade half-a-world away demonstrates how vulnerable we are as a nation to the saber-rattling of strongmen and dictators. Energy analysts are already projecting that if Iran follows through with its threat, the price of oil could rise 50% or more within days. This would be a significant blow to our still-fragile economy.
Energy security is national security. We can no longer afford to allow a handful of countries to exert unlimited influence on our wallets and on our safety. There is only one solution: We must use less oil. And we can, through conservation and efficiencies over time, and significantly right now by substituting the use of oil with domestically-produced alternatives.
Our first goal should be to encourage reform of access to the motor fuels market, so that consumers are able to choose alternatives other than gasoline refined from oil.
By requiring auto companies to manufacture their fleets to run on nonpetroleum fuels, we can strip oil of its strategic status as a commodity and stimulate investment in homegrown, alternative fuels.
Today, almost nine million vehicles on U.S. highways are Flex Fuel vehicles, capable of running on blends of gasoline, ethanol, and other clean burning alcohols. There is a proposal in Congress, called the Open Fuel Standard (OFS), which would gradually increase the number of American cars operating on "Flex Fuels" or other sources of energy — ultimately saving Americans money at the pump by allowing them to fill their vehicles with a range of fuels that will have to compete with each other.
The OFS would also provide certainty to investors to produce more alternative fuels and fueling stations to have a variety of pumps supplying those fuels and help our nation meet our energy independence goals.
Increasing the number of Flex Fuel vehicles on the road and installing more Flex Fuel pumps at our gas stations will give consumers an opportunity to choose their fuel, instead of having that choice made for them by foreign nations.
Indeed, as identified by Downstream Daily, an oil and gas publication, Flex Fuel vehicles are the viable solution to America’s global oil crunch and energy dependence.
I have a dog in this fight, as I believe we all do in our pursuit of energy independence. It is imperative for our country to produce our own sources of renewable energy so we don’t have to rely on foreign nations as heavily.
By investing in policies that will open the market to more alternative fuels, we can replace more of the oil we import, put more money back into consumers’ pockets, and create a more secure energy future for our children and grandchildren.
Photo Credit: L.C. Nottaasen