As oil prices eclipse the $100 per barrel threshold for the first time in two years, some members of Congress seem intent on blocking domestic renewable alternatives to oil, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen wrote in his blog “$100 Oil and Congress Asks for Seconds.”
“It is unfortunate that against this type of backdrop some members of Congress seem intent on re-legislating decisions to expand the use of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol,” Dinneen wrote. “Just last week, members of the House voted to limit the availability and use of ethanol in gasoline. As oil prices ascend over $100 a barrel, these members of Congress are asking for seconds.”
Two votes on amendments ultimately included in the House-passed Continuing Resolution (CR) would limit both the use and availability of ethanol-blended fuels. Currently, ethanol is 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline supply and is displacing 445 million barrels of imported oil annually – more oil than we import each year from Saudi Arabia.
The impacts of more than $100 oil are not insignificant. The L.A. Times today clearly details the impact of higher oil and fuel prices on every consumer item we buy from food to clothing to toys. The Times also notes that some research suggests each penny increasing gas price reduces consumer spending $1.5 billion. Gas prices are 55 cents higher today than they were a year ago.
In his blog post, Dinneen clearly notes that we need to encourage all technologies that will give Americans more control over their energy future. “When it comes to gaining some control over our energy future, we need to rapidly adopt all technologies that stabilize energy supplies while simultaneously conserving and greatly reducing our consumption of oil. That means more efficient cars, new car technologies like plug-in hybrids, and to the extent we need more domestic energy, responsible increases in U.S. oil production. And yes, that also means an aggressive ramp up in the use of American renewable fuels like ethanol.”
As Dinneen notes, “[w]e cannot turn back the clock to implement more forward-looking policies like the Renewable Fuels Standard that could have provided us with more options in the current situation. But, we can take this opportunity to begin a grown-up discussion about our energy future.”
Dinneen puts forward three ideas that would focus our response to the current crisis and provide more stability in the case of future unrest. Specifically, Dinneen encourages Congress to stop wasting time on frivolous debates limiting fuel choice, to get serious about commercializing advanced ethanol technologies, and to put all options on the table, including an honest look at the tax incentives provided to mature fossil fuel technologies.