Ethanol supporters are not wishing OPEC a very happy 50th birthday this week.
Growth Energy organized a press event in Washington today with more than 90 supporters and producers of domestic ethanol to mark the 50th anniversary of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – better known as OPEC.
“Since the inception of OPEC we have had conflict in and with the Middle East. We’ve invested generations of soldiers and untold trillions in warfare in the Middle East, over access to oil. We’ve experienced $4-a-gallon gasoline, gas lines and oil shocks to our economy. Every year we pay $300 billion annually – the equivalent of a thousand-dollar-a-person tribute—to foreign countries for oil,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, after 50 years of OPEC, we suggest it is time to retire this cartel’s hold over our country.”
Growth Energy Co-chairman Jeff Broin, CEO of ethanol producer POET, commented that ethanol could replace oil if there were an open market for all fuels. “As a producer of ethanol, but even more important, an American, I urge policy makers to immediately take these necessary steps so future birthdays for OPEC can be ‘over the hill’ parties,” said Broin.
Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen also issued a statement to mark the OPEC anniversary. “While there may be cause for celebration in the capitals of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and other member countries, here in the U.S. it is time to thank America’s renewable fuels industry for staunching the flow of OPEC oil,” said Dinneen in a release. “Without the growing production and use of biofuels in the U.S. and around the world, IEA (the International Energy Agency) calculates that more than one million barrels per day of new oil production would be required. Thanks to forward thinking U.S. policy promoting the production and use of biofuels, the U.S. can celebrate 50 years of OPEC not by cutting cake, but cutting even more oil imports.”
Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, wrote an op-ed about OPEC’s anniversary for Foreign Policy magazine advocating the simple fix that would help decrease dependence on foreign oil – make all cars sold in the U.S. flex fuel vehicles, allowing them to run on any combination of gasoline and alcohol fuels such as ethanol and methanol made from coal, natural gas, and biomass. “Congress could make this happen by imposing an open fuel standard, requiring new vehicles to be flex-fuel-capable. Such a standard would put a virtual cap on the price of oil,” Luft writes. “An open fuel standard would add just $70 to the cost of a new car, the equivalent of filling up a couple of tanks at the pump. Such minimal investment would enable the United States for the first time to challenge OPEC using the weapon the cartel fears most: competition at the pump.”