Ethanol Fuels Energy Security

  • Monday, 23 May 2016 10:59

Trib Live

May 20, 2016

By Wesley K. Clark

Today is Armed Forces Day. It is a good reminder to thank the men and women in uniform who spend every day protecting our freedoms, on and off the battlefield. Strange as it may seem, sometimes those victories don't require bombs or bullets.

Earlier this year, the Navy deployed the Great Green Fleet — a carrier strike group powered by renewable energy systems designed to keep our war fighters mobile, even if oil is scarce. It includes five biofuel-powered ships using some of the same technologies now available to consumers at the gas pump in the form of gasoline blended with 10 or 15 percent ethanol. Both efforts were borne from the simple notion that homegrown fuels will help insulate America from price shocks and foreign manipulation while protecting our environment.

The development and use of 21st-century clean, American-made biofuels has helped keep America moving forward. In 2015, gross U.S. oil imports totaled almost 10 million barrels of foreign petroleum daily. Put another way, our country spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every minute on foreign oil — billions of dollars annually.

American biofuel producers answered the call to reverse this resource drain, striving to develop homegrown sources of energy. While many have struggled to compete financially or have been deemed too troublesome environmentally, ethanol has been a true success story.

Ethanol is an advanced biofuel that is renewable and better for the environment. As a fuel additive, it already is blended into 97 percent of the gasoline sold across the country. In most cases, it is blended at the 10 percent level.

But increasingly, higher ethanol blends of gasoline such as E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, are being offered to American drivers who are reaping the benefits. Not only is ethanol grown and produced right here at home, it is cooler and cleaner burning than standard gasoline, and it has a higher octane level so engines benefit from increased horsepower.

In the past decade, the United States has become the global leader in ethanol production. Since 2000, U.S. ethanol production increased 13-fold in response to heightened demand for a clean, domestic fuel source. Every gallon of ethanol decreases our dependence on oil — one truckload of American ethanol displaces more than 60 barrels of imported oil. We have cut our imports in half since the introduction of ethanol into the fuel supply.

In addition to breaking our dependence on foreign oil, the ethanol boom is yielding other benefits. The industry created or supported nearly 400,000 jobs in 2015 across the U.S., and experts predict expanded use of higher ethanol-blend fuels, such as E15, could create thousands more.

Ethanol also has saved consumers as much as $.50 to $1.50 a gallon when gasoline prices spike, according to some estimates.

America's ability to produce its own energy to fuel our economy will help ensure our safety and keep our financial resources here at home. The use of American-made biofuels also will decrease the likelihood that we are drawn in to foreign entanglements around energy production. In the 21st century, energy security will continue to be vital to our national interests, and ethanol is set to play a central role at home.

Read the original story: Ethanol Fuels Energy Security