Over the course of his first weeks in office, President Trump has outlined an America-first energy policy that appears to mean essentially one thing: More U.S. oil production. His policies are decidedly aimed at boosting oil production: green-lighting more drilling on federal lands, building more oil pipelines, and rolling back rules that harm the oil industry. But America First doesn’t necessarily mean a focus on American oil.
From a different perspective, the Fuel Freedom Foundation aims to boost the American economy and cut its dependence on OPEC by expanding the fuels available for automobiles. Fuel Freedom, argues for “ending our oil addiction” and boosting the use of a wide variety of alternatives: EVs, methanol, ethanol, fuel cells, biodiesel and other liquid fuels. This would dampen the price of oil, give consumers a financial break and cut imports from the Middle East, Fuel Freedom argues.
Fuel Freedom has released a tool that forecasts light-duty vehicle growth and electric-vehicle penetration worldwide. The online tool allows users to plug in their own estimates and see how it affects the long-term forecasts, providing a realistic view of where the market is heading over the next 35 years.
The result? As with all changes to the fuel supply, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem. Who is going to pay to install methanol-blend pumps before there are methanol-blend vehicles? Also, members of the group have said EPA needs to allow for modifications of engines so that higher blends of methanol or ethanol could work efficiently.
Who knows whether this is a better “America First” approach. Change is hard, and it is easy to imagine automakers, oil producers and Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) defenders lining up to shoot this down. But the market and technology dictate that some kind of change is coming. Could it be this one?