Why Support an Open Fuel Standard?

1. Saves money. An open fuel standard would bring down gas prices at the pump. The main reason gas is so expensive is that OPEC has no competition, so it can (and does) deliberately lower its production to raise the price of oil, and we have no choice but to pay it. OPEC knows this, and takes advantage of its leverage. Fuel choice at the pump will be the end of this long-running and destructive monopoly.

2. Healthier. The fumes from burning alcohol are less toxic than the fumes from burning gasoline — considerably less toxic to humans and other living things.

3. Better economy. Better economy. An open fuel standard will generate jobs in the United States. Americans will build fuel-processing plants, new fuel stations, we’ll grow the raw materials to make methanol from biomass, grow crops to make ethanol, discover new sources, invent new alternative fuels, and come up with new ways to make fuel from waste products. American ingenuity will have a field day. A lot of money goes to fuel for transportation. With an open fuel standard, much more of this money will circulate in the American economy rather than being sent overseas. In addition, becoming less dependent on oil will prevent recessions.

4. Safer. Alcohol is less flammable than gasoline, and therefore less dangerous and less likely to explode. One of the things that makes gasoline dangerous is that its vapors sink to the ground where they can ignite. Alcohol vapors evaporate and dissipate. Alcohol burns cooler than gasoline, too, which also makes it less dangerous. That's why the United States Auto Club banned gasoline from their races.

5. Less carbon impact. Alcohol fuels put less carbon into the air. To drill for oil, you're taking carbon out from underneath the surface of the earth and burning it, adding carbon to the air that wasn't already there. But ethanol and methanol can be made from plant material. So the plant pulls carbon out of the air, and when it is burned as fuel, it returns the same carbon back into the air.

6. Inexpensive. Manufacturing a car with flex-fuel capability adds very little to the price of a car. It is a relatively small tweak, usually adding around one hundred dollars to the production cost of a new car. In Brazil, this cost is absorbed by the car companies and doesn’t raise the price of the car. That will probably be the case in the U.S. too.

7. Budget friendly. It doesn't cost the federal government any money. It doesn't involve any subsidies.

8. Environmentally friendly. An "alcohol spill" would not be a disaster like an oil spill. Alcohol dissolves in water and is readily consumed by bacteria. Within a few days of an Exxon-sized ethanol or methanol spill, the ocean would be back to normal.

9. National security. Fuel competition at the pump will reduce the amount of money going to regimes hostile to America (and hostile to their own populations). These regimes are dangerous. The world would be better off if those governments didn't have so much wealth to use to harm or repress others.

10. Freedom. With an open fuel standard, every alternative fuel could compete against gasoline, thereby allowing consumer choice. Cars could be flex fuel, electric, hydrogen, natural gas, biodiesel, or anything except monopoly-perpetuating gasoline-only cars.

An open fuel standard would bring an end to oil’s long-running harmful monopoly of transportation fuel, and would usher in a new era of economic vitality and energy independence in America.

11. Good for everyone. It will have a positive global impact, for two reasons: First, because the U.S. buys so many cars, when foreign car makers switch to making flex fuel cars, those same cars will be sold in other parts of the world, spreading fuel choice everywhere (and reducing pollution, reducing environmental damage from oil spills, and reducing carbon in the air everywhere, too).

And second, methanol from biomass will probably become the preferred fuel (it's very cheap, high octane, and can be made from almost anything, including municipal waste). And developing countries — especially those in tropical regions, where plants grow abundantly — will have money-making opportunities to cultivate plants to use for biomass, creating a market for their products, which will raise their income.

For all these reasons, an open fuel standard is worthy of our support.

Adam Khan is the co-author with Klassy Evans of Fill Your Tank With Freedom and the author of Slotralogy and Self-Reliance, Translated. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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