Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Write a Letter to Your Representative

The following is a letter Jeffrey J. Mathews of the Henry Ford Project wrote to his Representative. You can use it as a model for a letter you write to yours. The most powerful form of a letter is handwritten. Here's Mathews' letter:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Congressman ******:

I am writing to you today to ask you to please support the Open Fuel Standard (H.R. 2493).  The Open Fuel Standard (OFS) would require 30 percent of new automobiles in 2015, 50 percent in 2016, and 50 percent in each subsequent year, to operate on non-petroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels.

The OFS would bring consumer choice to Americans.  The vast majority of us presently do not have a choice to fuel our automobiles.  Only gasoline and diesel fuel are available. The petroleum industry has a monopoly in this country; it is not a monopoly by one particular oil company as was the case over a hundred years ago with Standard Oil.  No, this is an entire industry that has the American people in a chokehold.

For one, the availability of alternative fuels saves money for consumers.  Personally, I use E85 ethanol from Thornton’s gas stations in my home town.  Presently, the price at the pump is $2.79.  Have you seen the average price of gasoline lately?  Thornton’s station is the only place I can go locally to get ethanol for both of my converted cars, both of which left their respective factories as gas-only vehicles.

My primary concern, besides the obvious environmental impact upon the Earth, is our own national security in the United States.  Fuel competition at the pump will reduce the amount of money going to the regimes that are hostile to America (and hostile to their own populations). The world would be better off if those governments didn't have so much wealth to use to harm or repress others.

As a Republican representative, you already know the value of having a free and open marketplace.  I am asking you to support the Open Fuel Standard, H.R. 2493.

Yours truly,

Jeffrey J. Mathews

P.S.  I also wish to thank you for voting to stop the NSA from spying on us American citizens as if we were all criminals.  You tried anyway.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Prices Drop When the Supply Increases, Right?

Global oil production reached a record high in 2012, writes Gal Sitty on the blog, Refueling America. "Earlier this year, on the very same blog, the EIA released information showing that 2012 also saw record high oil prices. This may come as a shock to many people who might believe that drilling more oil will decrease prices..."

The reason it comes as a shock is that we think if there is more supply, the price should come down. In a competitive market, that is the case, but oil does not have competition. Our cars, planes, trucks, ships and planes are almost all warranted to burn no other fuel than petroleum. The market is fixed. And OPEC fixes the price. It's a monopoly.

"Breaking this monopoly can be achieved by enabling drivers to choose between fuels when filling up their gas tanks," writes Sitty. "Cars like the Chevy Volt, which can run on either electricity or gasoline, are an example of how consumer choice with regards to fuel can save drivers money. Other fuels such as ethanol and methanol can also be used to expand consumer choice, with a significantly smaller capital investment, by making slight modifications to existing vehicles to facilitate the safe and efficient use of these fuels. Lastly, unlike gasoline and diesel, which are only produced from oil, ethanol, methanol and electricity can all be produced from multiple sources, further increasing consumer choice and hence competition."

With a stroke of a pen, fuel competition can come into being nationwide. The Open Fuel Standard can do it quickly and efficiently. Please get everyone you know to help this happen. You can find all the tools you need to get started by clicking here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where Does Your Fuel Money Go?

The unbelievably wealthy city of Dubai launched a campaign last week to get its overweight citizens to slim down. The government is going to reward dieters with one gram of gold for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) they lose.

Where do they get so much wealth? Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates, a member of OPEC. Worldwide oil prices are kept high by OPEC's illegal price-fixing cartel. And because our vehicles have not been warranted to burn competing fuels, 95 percent of all transportation vehicles in the world burn nothing but petroleum.

Until our cars can allow competition, we are stuck paying exorbitant prices for fuel so that OPEC nations can (among many other things) lavishly give away money to its fat citizens.

Let's end it now. Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Open Fuel Standard.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gas Prices Do Not Reflect a Free Market

Gas prices actually have nothing to do with the break-even price of private oil companies, said Anne Korin at a recent media briefing. Instead, it’s about the price required to balance the budget of the OPEC regime. The Arab Spring, a series of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world that began at the end of 2010, has had a profound impact on the fiscal breakeven price of oil. After these events, OPEC had a choice—sell more oil at a lower price or sell less oil at a higher price. “Being an oil cartel, OPEC will always choose to sell fewer barrels at a higher price,” she said.

And, she pointed out, that break-even price to meet OPEC’s budget has continued to grow over the years. In the 1990s OPEC said $20 a barrel of oil was a fair price. Today, it’s $90 or $100 a barrel and more for certain OPEC countries. “And it will simply go higher and higher,” she said.

The above is excerpted from an article by Holly Jessen. Read the whole article here.

We do not need to continue being robbed by OPEC. The Open Fuel Standard will bring fuel prices down by creating fuel competition, and it will take surprisingly little time. If you want to help change America's trajectory, start here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Open Fuel Standard is a Legitimate Exception to the No-Mandates Principle

It is wise to resist mandates as a general rule. As much as possible, we should avoid allowing the government to interfere with private enterprise. And the Open Fuel Standard is a mandate. It requires automakers to manufacture and warrant their vehicles to burn not just gasoline, but methanol and ethanol as well. It might seem reasonable to categorically reject the bill because it's a government mandate.

On the other hand, one of the most legitimate uses of government power is breaking up monopolies. And oil is definitely monopolizing the transportation fuel market. And because it is, our national security and economic viability are suffering. But oil's monopoly can be broken and fuel competition can commence with the passing of the OFS bill — a simple bill only six pages long that costs taxpayers nothing and creates no subsidies, but a bill with enormous repercussions. The purpose of the bill is to break the monopoly.

Monopolies inhibit free markets, and in this case, the monopoly is preventing competition with the most strategically important commodity on earth: Transportation fuel.

So in spite of the fact that the bill is a mandate, it should be done. Constituents (you and me) simply need to make it clear to our Members of Congress that the Open Fuel Standard is a mandate that should be passed. The repugnance many of us feel to mandates in general should not blind us to the need for this exception.

"The intellectual inflexibility displayed in the defense of the sacred principle of no-mandates," write Anne Korin and Gal Luft in their book, Petropoly, "is leading the United States to economic suicide. There is no gentler way of saying it: members of Congress — many of whom voted for mandates from digital television to rear end cameras in cars — who oppose measures that open the fuel market to competition are aiding and abetting OPEC and others who benefit from the single-fuel system. In the end, it is they who stand between the perpetuation of a restrictive, monopolistic and economically ruinous fuel system and a free and competitive fuel market which could provide us true and lasting energy security."

Convince your Members of Congress. Here's where to start.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Breakthroughs For Petroleum's Competitors — Please Vote

National Geographic asked two dozen experts what inventions and technical innovations biofuels need to become viable competitors to petroleum. You can read the whole article here: What Breakthroughs Do Biofuels Need?

The experts came up with five breakthroughs. One of them is "True Choice at the Pump," which I will excerpt below. Anne Korin, co-author of Petropoly and Turning Oil Into Salt, was one of the experts they talked to.

For biofuels to flourish, they have to be available to consumers, some experts pointed out. Currently, the pipelines and gas pump infrastructure is geared almost entirely to petroleum products (with ethanol a modest 10 percent blend-in to boost octane.) A key problem is that the majority of passenger cars in the United States are not designed to run on high blends of ethanol, even though the technology for flexible fuel cars is inexpensive and well-known. (Most cars in Brazil, for example, are flex-fuel vehicles.) “Let’s give the consumer a choice,” says Doug Berven, vice president of corporate affairs for biofuels company, POET.

Korin’s group endorses the idea of an “Open Fuel Standard,” a policy requiring automakers to make “truly fuel competitive” vehicles, able to run on something other than gasoline. She says it can’t be just requiring a choice of gasoline or ethanol — it has to include fuels such as methanol, which can be made from feedstocks like natural gas.

Beside each of the breakthrough titles are five stars so you can rate the solution. I encourage you to go to the page and vote.

Monday, July 8, 2013

An Environmental Disaster Cannot Happen With an Ethanol Spill

You won't see anything like this with ethanol.
One of the advantages of ethanol is its safety. You won't see birds dying from an ethanol spill. I liked how they put it in an article on an ethanol spill in Janesville, Wisconsin:

"The accident Tuesday morning led to the spill of 8,000 gallons of ethanol into a nearby retention pond, and prompted officials to evacuate the area for hours and shut down Highway 59 east of Milton until well after midnight Wednesday morning.

"Layber said he was told by Milton Fire Department officials that the Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday had suggested allowing the overturned truck to drain its load of unblended ethanol into a storm sewer linked to a nearby retention pond.

"That move was viewed as safer than bringing in equipment to deal with the spill, which officials said was potentially explosive.

"Layber said the pond is lined with clay at the bottom, and he said DNR officials expected the ethanol to evaporate from the water. He said officials indicated the spill wouldn't be a threat to groundwater or drinking water."

Read the whole article: Ethanol Spill Isn't Dangerous, Officials Say.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Iowa’s Fuel Retailers Celebrated Independence Day Early

One of the reasons we don't have much (or any) choice at the pump is that oil companies have routinely blocked station owners from putting in non-petroleum fuel pumps. But in Iowa, that problem has just been fixed. "New liberties go into effect for Iowa’s fuel retailers. They now have the freedom to offer the fuel options they choose, not what Big Oil dictates,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “These new protections amount to a ‘Retailer Bill of Rights,’ providing relief from Big Oil’s heavy handed, branded contracts that often dictate if and how retailers offer certain fuels, like E15 and E85.” 

H.F. 640, which took effect July 1st, includes language that prevents oil refiners’ supply agreements from directly or indirectly limiting the ability of local retailers to offer the ethanol and biodiesel blends they choose. The provisions are based on a law enacted in South Dakota in 2011 and addresses specific, anti-competition provisions from refiner supply agreements.  As a result, new supply agreements will not be allowed to:

  • Restrict installing a blender pump;
  • Restrict using current equipment from offering higher blends, like E15, E85, and B20;
  • Restrict ethanol or biodiesel blends from being advertised;
  • Restrict the locations where a retailer may offer the higher blends (like under a canopy);
  • Restrict payment for higher blends to cash only (no credit cards)

“While protecting Big Oil trademarks, this piece of legislation not only gives Iowa retailers more freedom to offer the ethanol and biodiesel blends they choose, it also allows Iowa’s consumers greater access to low-cost, homegrown, renewable fuel options,” added Shaw. “More ethanol and biodiesel blends at the pump equates to greater fueling freedom, American jobs and American energy security—all great things to celebrate on Independence Day.”

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Most Americans Are In Favor of Fuel Competition

In late January of this year, a thousand adult Americans were asked, "Do you favor or oppose requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil, such as electricity, natural gas and bio-fuels?" An overwhelming 76 percent of people were in favor of it.

That's what the Open Fuel Standard would do: Require automobiles to make fuel competition possible. But the bill goes one step further. In addition to cars running on fuel sources other than oil, it requires car makers to build cars to run on other fuel sources in addition to gasoline. Luckily, the tweak required to turn a gas-only car into a GEM vehicle (that can burn gasoline, ethanol and methanol in any proportion) is miniscule.

But that one small change ushers in an entirely new economic era for the United States.

Would you like to help make this happen? Start here.