Open Fuel Standard backed by big name supporters

By Holly Jessen | October 26, 2011

NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace and former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane recently joined forces with others to promote passage of the Open Fuel Standard Act. At an Energy Security Roundtable held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25, they showed their support for the proposed bill to promote fuel competition along with Reps. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and John Shimkus, R-Ill., the Renewable Fuels Association, the Methanol Institute and ACT! For America. “National security has several fronts,” McFarlane said. “Our reliance on a cartel to determine oil supplies and prices is not in our national interest.”

The Open Fuel Standard Act was introduced by Shimkus in the U.S. House of Representatives in the spring, followed by in Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in the Senate in late September. Although the two versions have some differences, the proposed legislation would require increasing levels of new vehicles manufactured or sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel capable, or able to run on mixtures of E85, methanol or other alcohols or liquid fuels. “Consumers should have a choice when they pull up to a refueling station,” Shimkus said. “Why are we currently limited to petroleum gasoline?  At a minimal cost, vehicles could be able to accept multiple fuels with consumers choosing based on price or even feedstock for the fuel.”

Wallace is a spokesperson for American Ethanol, which brought E15 to NASCAR. “Ethanol is a high performance fuel that is clean burning,” he said. “It's safe, we use it in NASCAR and there is no reason we cannot use more of it in our vehicles.”

Passing the Open Fuel Standard is about choice at the pump for consumers, said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. That means ethanol, methanol and other alternative fuels. “Giving Americans a choice in both the fuels they use and the vehicles they drive is quintessentially American and empowers them to take control of our energy future,” he said. “That means more alternative fueling infrastructure like blender pumps and more vehicles capable of using a range of fuel options. At the end of the day, this isn’t about picking one alternative or renewable fuel over another. This effort is about ending our costly and dangerous addiction to oil.”

Passing the Open Fuel Standard into law would create competition for petroleum in an open market, Engel said. Creating flex-fuel vehicles that can use ethanol blends and other alternative fuels can be done at little cost and existing technologies. “Dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges that our nation has ever faced—our national security and our economy depend on breaking free of it,” he said.

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