With oil prices now in triple digits and gas prices averaging 75 cents higher than last year, some are calling for oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as a way to bring consumers relief.
Sioux Falls, SD
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) believes there’s a better plan.
“People who are fascinated with tapping the SPR for additional gasoline should know that the U.S. ethanol industry annually produces the same or more fuel than the volume of gasoline we could refine from the SPR – except that ethanol is a renewable resource that is replenished every year thanks to American farmers and Mother Nature,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE. “Drawing on the SPR might provide short-term relief, but once the SPR is tapped, that oil is gone, and the U.S. would have to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to resupply. Ethanol is the only commercially available alternative to oil today, and it costs less – E10 blends are already 15 cents per gallon less than unleaded.”
The amount of fuel in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is nearly identical to the amount of ethanol that the U.S. can produce every year. The SPR contains 727 million barrels of oil, which would yield 19 gallons of gasoline per barrel, or 13.8 billion gallons of gasoline. American ethanol producers supplied 13.23 billion gallons of fuel in 2010.
“There are much better solutions to provide consumers relief at the pump,” said Ron Lamberty, ACE’s Vice President / Market Development. “Allowing motorists to use 10.5 percent ethanol per gallon – only an extra half a percent – would boost the gasoline supply by the same amount as the 11 million barrels they released from the SPR after Hurricane Katrina. Or allowing motorists to use 12 percent ethanol per gallon would be four to five times more effective than the oil released after Katrina – not to mention the benefit to motorists’ pocketbooks since ethanol is more cost-effective than gasoline.”
Ethanol is currently selling at the rack for around 50 cents less per gallon than gasoline, according to Lamberty.
“America’s ethanol producers are ready, willing and able to supply more domestic, renewable fuel, but they are being blocked by bureaucracy and special interests supporting Big Oil and Big Food. Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when we have 200 domestic producers of renewable fuel at the ready is senseless and short-sighted. Being satisfied with U.S. ethanol producers exporting homegrown fuel is not an option,” Jennings added.
Despite a Renewable Fuels Standard that calls for an increase in the use of ethanol, the U.S. is actually exporting ethanol today because the fuel market is locked at 90 percent petroleum and only 10 percent ethanol per gallon. The U.S. EPA did approve the use of 15 percent ethanol per gallon in vehicles 2001 and newer, but litigation and pending labeling requirements are preventing its implementation. The U.S. exported 397 million gallons of domestically produced ethanol during 2010, a four-fold increase over 2009.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is the grassroots voice of the U.S. ethanol industry, a national advocacy association for the ethanol industry with nearly 1,500 members nationwide, including farmers, ethanol producers, commodity organizations, businesses supplying goods and services to the ethanol industry, rural electric cooperatives, and individuals supportive of increased production and use of ethanol. For more information about ethanol or ACE, visit www.ethanol.org or call (605) 334-3381.