It’s Friday and that means its time to fill the gas tank. Just in time for weekend fun, it always seems like gas prices go up. Here in California, prices are hovering near the $4.40 per gallon mark. But this week, oil prices dropped 15 percent from a two-year high of $114.83 on Monday and today prices closed at $97.18. Economists are predicting gas prices at the pump will fall and we’ll see a summer national average of $3.50, although last month the EIA predicted they would be closer to $3.79. But don’t hold your breath – prices won’t drop this weekend.
I’ve held this interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis because I was waiting for prices to rise even higher (which they have). When we had this discussion, we were attending the event where BioProcess Algae commissioned its Grower Harvester bioreactors, the second phase in their commercialization strategy. The site is co-located with a first generation corn ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa owned and operated by Green Plains Renewable Energy. This was the perfect backdrop to have the discussion about the role of biofuels in helping to lower prices at the pump.
Buis explained that for the past 40 years, our country has been addicted to foreign oil and the costs to our country have been astronomical. Every recession since World World II has been proceeded by high gas prices. As oil prices rise, it takes time for the increased price to be reflected at the pump. Yet we have a domestic solution available now – ethanol. “I don’t know how many times we have to have these wake-up calls, let’s move forward. We know we can do it. We’re sitting here at a plant today that’s living proof that we can create our own energy here in this country.”
Listen to my interview with Tom Buis here: Ethanol, Right Here, Right Now
Today, Buis said ethanol today is saving consumers at the low end 17 cents per gallon up to 50 cents per gallon on the high end. “If we shut off ethanol today, it would have a far greater impact than the turmoil in the Middle East or North Africa because we’re a bigger source,” said Buis. “Most people don’t understand that if the American ethanol industry were a country, we would be the second largest provider to the United States of transportation fuel. Second only to Canada. That would have a huge impact.”
One last fact. We spend $1 billion dollars a day to import foreign oil. This is more than $1,000 per year for every man, woman and child in this country. That means you.
Mull this over the next time you fill up.