Growth Energy held a teleconference on Thursday where they unveiled a plan by which Congress could provide the ethanol industry access to a free, open marketplace. Currently ethanol makes up 10% of the nation's gasoline supply, but Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says more can be done if the proper steps are taken by Congress.
"What we are proposing today is a plan to help achieve this goal," Buis said. "The Fueling Freedom Plan calls for shifting government programs to reduce the barriers we face in competing openly and fairly in a free market."
Buis says that America doesn't have a problem in producing ethanol, instead it is producing more ethanol than government regulations will allow to be used. He says the challenge is the infrastructure barriers that keep ethanol from competing in an open marketplace.
"Oil has a 90% monopoly; we need to break the monopoly," Buis said. "Our plan calls for the redirection and eventual phasing out of government support; mandatory flex-fuel vehicle production and tax incentives for retail fueling stations to install blender pumps."
Growth Energy Co-Chairman General Wesley Clark says he believes that America's national security can only be advanced if it can achieve greater energy independence.
"Were spending over $300 billion a year importing oil," Clark said. "We have a domestic substitute fuel. We could keep that money in the United States; we could recirculate it in our economy, we could use it for education, we could use it for health care and perhaps most importantly from a national security standpoint we can cut off those dollars going to countries that don't support us. It's all about wise policy choices."
Clark says that the debate raging over the ethanol tax credit is concerned with it being $6 billion a year. He asks how that compares with the $300 billion that's going out of the country for foreign oil.
"The thing about the volumetric tax credit is that money is staying in the United States," Clark said. "It's actually reducing the price of a gallon of gasoline mixed with ethanol. If we play our cards right, if we have the right policy choices as we're suggesting today, we'll take that money and transition it into building out our infrastructure to give Americans the freedom of choice of fuel. If we do that, we are convinced they'll choose a better fuel and that's domestically produced ethanol and that'll improve our national security and move us a long way toward energy independence."
Buis says that opening up the market will allow Americans to help eliminate importing foreign oil from the Middle East and elsewhere.
"Ethanol is the only existing alternative to foreign oil today," Buis said. "It's not decades down the road, it's not that shiny silver ball that may or may not fall out of the sky, it's real. We can do it, we're at 10% of the nation's fuel sources and we can do more, much more."