Q & A

This page answers common questions about Fuel Freedom, why it matters, what it means, and how to achieve it, as well as questions on diverse topics related to the impact and consequences of our oil addiction.

About Fuel Freedom
What is Fuel Freedom?
Fuel Freedom is the campaign to end America’s oil addiction by opening the fuel market to competition. Fuel Freedom means that you can choose to run your current car on fuels not made from petroleum. Let the natural gas providers, the utilities, the farmers, the trash collectors, advanced biotech companies and anyone else compete with the oil companies for your fuel business. Competition will inevitably lead to lower fuel prices and will usher in an era of innovation in the transportation sector.
Why do we need Fuel Freedom?
Hundreds of millions of people entering the middle class in China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies are creating a huge demand for new cars, which inevitably leads to higher oil prices. High oil prices ruin our economy, cause increased poverty, increase our reliance on unstable governments who have opposing interests and justify environmentally challenging oil-mining operations. Fuel Freedom releases the market forces needed to address each of these concerns. The Fuel Freedom campaign will not stop until there is a structural change in the pricing of oil (to prevent oil from being priced at over $50 a barrel), which results in saving thousands of dollars at the pump for every working American family.
Why is Fuel Freedom different?
Fuel Freedom is non-partisan. It is a movement for all Americans. Fuel Freedom is not about government handouts; it is about releasing market forces, entrepreneurship and innovation. Fuel Freedom is not about addressing the symptoms of our oil use such as wars, air pollution and increased economic burden; it is about addressing the cause of such symptoms – our oil addiction. Fuel Freedom is not about waiting for some breakthrough technology or car reinvention; it is about using what we already have – our current cars. All these make Fuel Freedom the only credible effort to address America’s oil addiction within the next decade.
Why do we need another foundation focused on energy?
There is simply no other foundation out there that is looking out for YOUR interest. Fuel Freedom is not about energy; it is about oil! Fuel Freedom is not your traditional “think tank,” it is a “do tank.” Our “product” is a free and open competition for fuels. Our allies are the market and you – the driver. Our opponents are outdated regulations that prevent replacement fuels from reaching the market and, frankly, the ignorance of the public that is not crying out for change. If everyone demanded the use of replacement fuels in their current cars, we could break the oil monopoly once and for all. Our goal is to educate the public about this possibility and win the fight for fuel freedom.
How does the tagline “Cheaper. Cleaner. American-made.” relate to Fuel Freedom?
Oil addiction affects the health of our economy, pocketbooks, environment and national security. Fuel Freedom can cure our addiction by reducing fuel price at the pump, improving air quality and creating American jobs by introducing replacement fuels that are made from domestic sources, such as natural gas, agriculture, municipal waste, biomass and others. In other words: Cheaper. Cleaner. American-made.
Are replacement fuels cheaper & cleaner than gasoline?
Yes. The introduction of replacement fuels, such as ethanol, methanol and natural gas, into the fuel market will create true fuel competition that will bring down prices. If replacement fuels were equal players at the pump, the risk of oil spills would be substantially reduced due to the decrease of oil production and consumption. Also, Replacement Fuels emit fewer greenhouse gases and require fewer carcinogenic additives than petroleum, ultimately improving air quality.
Can’t solar, wind and/or nuclear give us Fuel Freedom?
No. Solar, wind and nuclear all provide electricity. Our cars are addicted to oil. If we all drove electric cars, solar, wind or nuclear powered vehicles, we could achieve fuel freedom. We don’t, however, and it is unrealistic to expect a complete transition to electric cars within a reasonable timeframe due to high prices and battery limitations. Consequently, near-term solutions to reduce or eliminate dependence on petroleum will require readily available Replacement Fuels.
Why don’t we already have Fuel Freedom?
There are a number of reasons, which are described in Oil Addiction. The principle reason is a regulatory barrier that automakers and oil companies use to maintain the status quo. The Mythbusting section more fully describes the problem.
What makes Fuel Freedom possible now?
A series of technological advances pave the way to achieve Fuel Freedom now. Modern natural gas drilling techniques make it possible to produce massive supplies for use as vehicle fuel or to produce methanol. Rapid improvements in crop yields have dramatically increased ethanol feedstock and your car’s onboard computer system is developed to accommodate flex fuels, greatly simplifying the conversion to Replacement Fuels. Collectively, these can allow us to move Beyond Oil.
How do we move beyond oil?
Moving beyond oil requires an open market in which replacement fuels are able to compete on equal footing with gasoline. Updated EPA regulations and vehicle warranty rules will encourage consumers to support replacement fuels in their existing cars.
Why do we need Fuel Freedom when we have the Bakken Formation and other oil field discoveries?
For two reasons: The numbers simply don’t add up. We produce 6 million barrels of oil per day and consume 18 million. Even if by some miracle we became self-sufficient, oil prices would not necessarily be lower. Canada is independent from oil and they pay just as high of a price at the pump as we do. Of course we need to responsibly develop our domestic resources. However, without competition, the price of oil will continue to rise. Mythbusting explains the numbers for the Bakken Formation.
Why not advocate for a specific fuel source or technology?
It can often times be difficult to predict the future of technology, market conditions or economic realities, and any turnkey solution today may not fit the reality of tomorrow or a decade or more from now. A good example of a too-specific policy mistake was the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. EISA dictated that specific fuels are introduced over time, yet some of those fuels cannot yet be produced in the quantities necessary to meet the regulatory requirements. Source
How is Fuel Freedom compatible with a free market?
The fundamental purpose of Fuel Freedom is to enable an open and free market, as explained on the Free Markets page. A free market benefits both individual Americans and our national economy. It has the power to spark innovation that can replace existing technology.
What is the Open Fuel Standard and why does Fuel Freedom support it?
The Open Fuel Standard is a bill before Congress which, if passed, would require the production of flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on any combination of gasoline, ethanol and methanol to reach 95 % of each manufacture’s model-year fleet by 2017. Fuel Freedom supports the Open Fuel Standard because it would provide consumers with a choice.
What are flex-fuel vehicles?
Flex-fuel is a 40-year-old technology that enables cars to accept multiple fuels. It is already used in millions of U.S. cars and can be implemented at a minimal cost per vehicle. There are approximately 10 million ethanol-labeled flex-fuel cars and light trucks in operation. However, there are an estimated 50 million additional vehicles that could be flex-fuel if the proper software were installed in their on board vehicle computer. Fuel Freedom envisions even more flexible vehicles in the fuel market – vehicles capable of using blends of gasoline, ethanol and methanol (GEM).
How can Fuel Freedom spur innovation and improve U.S. competitiveness?
The existing regulatory barriers make it almost impossible for startup companies to enter the transportation sector. For this reason, improvements in engine technologies, new software for the car computer and new formulations of fuels are effectively barred from entering the market. Streamlining the regulations without decreasing their intent will enable real solutions to reach the market. Just as the breakup of AT&T ushered in the era of communication, the breakup of the oil monopoly will usher in a new transportation era.
How is Fuel Freedom compatible with a free market?
The fundamental purpose of Fuel Freedom is to enable an open and free market, as explained on the Free Markets page. A free market benefits both individual Americans and our national economy. It has the power to spark innovation that can replace existing technology.

Why YOU should care about Fuel Freedom

Which political party supports Fuel Freedom, Democrats, Republicans, Independents or other?
Fuel Freedom crosses all political boundaries. Oil dependence is a fundamentally economic issue as well as an environmental and security issue. The prices we pay for food and other transported goods are vulnerable to oil prices causing us to pay too much for necessities. That means the status quo has failed – making Fuel Freedom an all-American and therefore all-political-party issue.
How can Fuel Freedom benefit a long distance commuter?
If you’re a long-distance commuter, high fuel prices affect you and your family’s budget. Fuel competition at the pump will provide cleaner and CHEAPER options.
How does Fuel Freedom redirect my spending and investing to domestic goods and services?
Fuel Freedom advocates for Cheaper, Cleaner, American-made replacement fuels. This means you will be spending your money on domestic fuels rather than imported oil.
How does breaking our oil addiction benefit my retirement?
Various threats such as natural disasters, war and other geopolitical threats that affect the price of oil might not affect other fuel feedstocks. With fuel options, we will no longer be tied to one commodity (oil) and its volatile pricing. Therefore, choices provide price stability. Many retirements are tied to financial markets that are devastated by the recessions induced by oil price spikes. Retired persons will not be as vulnerable to negative economic impacts caused by rising fuel costs, which have historically crippled the economy.
How can Fuel Freedom allow me to decide how much I pay at the pump?
Oil prices rise due to many reasons, including increasing demand in the emerging markets, geopolitical instability and speculation, to name a few. Fuel Freedom encourages fuel options, made from a variety of feedstocks, allowing consumers to choose fuel based on price. Competition in the market will not only drive down fuel prices, but it will also reduce price volatility.
How can Fuel Freedom bring home American troops?
A large part of our defense force mission is to secure U.S. oil supplies. Fuel Freedom wants to introduce replacement fuel options at the pump that are domestically produced. This will not only significantly reduce our reliance on imported oil but will also defund terrorist organizations that are funded with petrodollars, ultimately reducing the need of U.S. military to secure oil supplies abroad.
How does our oil addiction contribute to global warming?
Petroleum use is the #1 contributor to greenhouse gas emission in the U.S.
Does our addiction to oil contribute to the rise of Radical Islam?
Yes. Petrodollars are the number one source of funding for Radical Islamic movements.
How does Fuel Freedom benefit human rights?
High oil prices could result in oil shortages, which could mean famine and war in poor countries.
Are trucking, freight or airline industries affected by our oil addiction?
Yes. High fuel prices devastate these industries from time to time.
How do oil imports affect our government trade deficit?
Oil imports account for more than 50% of our trade deficit.
Is Fuel Freedom proposing subsidies on alternative fuels?
No. Fuel Freedom does not propose new subsidies that we cannot afford.
Will Fuel Freedom help improve the current job market?
The acquisition of U.S. feedstocks and domestic fuel production will create many new jobs in the U.S.
How can Fuel Freedom benefit small business owners?
Transportation is a major expense for many small businesses. Furthermore, high oil prices affect the cost of goods and squeeze profit margins. Reducing the cost of transportation fuel through the introduction of replacement fuels will reduce transportation expenses.
Does Fuel Freedom embody free market principles?
Yes. Fuel Freedom will break our addiction to foreign oil, unleash our national economy from debt and offer us the freedom to choose the fuels we put in our vehicles – all without handouts or subsidies.
Why should the Occupy Movement support Fuel Freedom?
Fuel Freedom benefits all Americans, but particularly “the 99%.” Lower income families spend a higher proportion of their incomes on fuel, and are hit the hardest by the high gasoline prices that result from a lack of choice at the pump.

Oil and the Economy

How do high oil prices affect our economy?
The most damaging economic consequence of oil price spikes is a recession, like we experienced in 2008, and are mired in now. Of course, high oil prices affect almost every other area of our economy, from the price of food and other goods to unemployment and poverty. Oil Economics, describes the situation.
Is there a relationship between the high oil prices and the current recession?
There appears to be a very strong relationship between oil price spikes and recessions. In fact, as explained in Oil Economics, ten of the last eleven recessions have been tied to oil price spikes, including the recession we’re currently experiencing.

This time, we’re also dealing with sustained high oil prices that act as an anchor dragging down our economic recovery. The high current oil prices–despite a prolonged recession that should bring prices down–keeps American families from getting ahead as a higher percentage of our incomes go toward gasoline. With more money flowing into our gas tanks and overseas, we have less money to purchase goods and services. Less purchasing power means fewer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Thus the oil anchor continues to drag us all down as we struggle to keep from individually and collectively drowning in debt.
The Fuel Freedom campaign aims to cure our addiction and free us from the threat of future oil-induced recessions.

What determines oil prices?
Rather than being directly affected by consumer supply and demand, the price per barrel of oil is established by traders in the commodities market. Prices are ultimately influenced by a number of factors, including production levels, worldwide demand, estimated reserves, natural disasters or major events that affect production capacity, and of course, geopolitics. Oil Economics explains in more detail. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has specific information about seven factors that influence oil markets.
How much do we pay for foreign oil dependence?
We currently send more than $300 billion overseas every year to pay for our oil addiction. That amounts to roughly $1,000 per year for every man, woman and child in the U.S. However, this is just the most obvious cost; Oil Economics provides the big picture.
Are we running out of oil?
No. There is, however, a scarce supply of inexpensive oil. Shale, tar sands and deepwater sources are the predominate sources of petroleum in North America, making U.S. and Canadian supplies the most expensive to extract. Economic and geopolitical pressures will continue driving up oil prices and the rare conventional “cheap oil” suppliers such as Saudi Arabia will continue to be the biggest beneficiaries of the higher prices.
How does price per barrel of oil translate to my price at the pump?
There is no precise formula, but $100 per barrel of oil roughly translates to a price between $3.50 and $4.00 per gallon for gasoline.
Who is affected most by high gasoline prices?
Lower income individuals and families are most affected. These workers often cannot afford to live close to the best jobs; therefore, they commute farther and spend more on gasoline. This has a significant impact because gasoline costs make up a much larger percentage of a lower-income family’s monthly budget. Of course, middle-class Americans take a bit hit, too, as explained in Oil Economics.
How would American-made fuels benefit the economy?
Shifting to American-made fuels keeps money in the U.S., where it can be spent on goods, services and wages for U.S. workers, all of which stimulate economic growth. Oil Economics has the whole story.
How does replacing foreign oil create jobs in the U.S.?
Shifting to American-made fuels generates jobs both directly and indirectly. Direct jobs are created in finding, creating, processing and distributing fuel. Indirect jobs are created through overall economic growth. The numbers are explained in Oil Economics

Replacing Foreign Oil

What replacement fuels does Fuel Freedom propose?
In addition to capitalizing on domestic petroleum, ethanol, methanol and natural gas can cure our foreign oil addiction. All of these can be produced at an affordable price from abundant and widely available feedstocks such as municipal waste, natural gas, and corn. In addition, hybrids and electric cars are great alternatives to respectively minimize fuel consumption and avoid the fuel problem altogether. Each of these options is described in detail at Replacement Fuels.
Why can only these Replacement Fuels give us Fuel Freedom?
Because only these fuels can be produced 1.) now, 2.) cost-effectively, 3.) at a large scale, and 4.) from readily available domestic feedstocks. Although they also offer benefits such as improving air quality, the four key criteria are essential for the primary objective: to diversify the fuel market as soon as possible and cure our foreign oil addiction.
What is required to make vehicles flex-fuel?
Most cars that have been produced over the last five years are already capable of being ethanol/gasoline flex-fuel. However, to enable the cars to run on multiple fuels, slight modifications to fuel line seals and other parts and computer reprogramming in the vehicle are required. Ethanol/gasoline flex-fuel capable cars could be converted to support up to 60% blends of methanol by merely replacing fuel system seals and o-rings. Support for higher methanol blends can be achieved by modifying an automobile’s spark tables. Late model year non-flexible fuel cars could be converted to flex-fuel by reprogramming their on-board computer to recognize alcohol fuels. All together there are an estimated 50 million cars and trucks that could be converted to run on ethanol/methanol/gasoline blends. In addition, it is not costly to convert vehicles. Most of the associated costs are for the labor that is required to replace the seals with alcohol compatible products.
Can electric vehicles alone solve our oil problem?
Electric vehicles are a good option, but a total transition will take a very long time due to high prices. We want to see results more quickly. A variety of options would offer more choices for consumers at lower price.
Why is efficiency not enough?
While increasing the required number of miles per gallon can reduce the petroleum consumed per mile of driving, this approach does not incentivize the necessary shift away from the near-exclusive use of petroleum-based fuels. Therefore, even if we use less gasoline per vehicle, the price of oil will still continue to rise, along with all the economic, geopolitical and environmental impacts.

Additionally, any solution that is solely dependent on replacement of the fleet is too slow. It will take 25-30 years for the impact of higher efficiency cars to be large enough to make a difference.

What is MPD and why is it more important than MPG?
Taking the miles per gallon (MPG) and dividing it by the price of fuel calculates miles per dollar (MPD). MPG has been the only way for consumers to understand how much gasoline is consumed but it fails to capture the cost element. MPD is a straightforward approach to account for the actual dollars you spend on fuel. It can become the comparison between the value recovered from using replacement fuels.
Can’t we achieve Fuel Freedom by building infrastructure and mass transit services to bring people together?
Reducing vehicle miles travelled is a good thing, but it is unrealistic to expect massive changes in the near term. We’re advocating for a more expedient solution that accommodates Americans’ variety of lifestyle choices.
Why not specifically advocate for more advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol or algae?
The open market envisioned by Fuel Freedom would pave the way for any fuel to compete, and the more, the merrier. However, for the near term, we are focusing specific attention on Replacement Fuels that can be readily produced on a large scale, at an affordable price, and using existing technology. Once the market opens up, fuels that are struggling to get the necessary funding to scale up and enjoy lower costs will have a fair chance to compete in the market due to economy of scale. In particular, fuels made from renewable sources will, in the long run, enjoy cheaper feedstock costs, which will enable them to stack favorably against fossil fuels.
How do we know methanol can safely and reliably fuel our cars?
Methanol is a liquid fuel created mostly from natural gas. It is a highly oxygenated, high octane fuel. Methanol has fueled vehicles over the past 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s, methanol-powered cars accumulated 35 million miles in the U.S. and around the world, including 15,000 methanol vehicles in California. Drivers in China currently use methanol in their cars. Methanol has even fueled racecars from Indy and CART to Monster Trucks and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
Is methanol really safe?
The easy answer is that methanol is lethal if ingested, but the fact that we can’t drink gasoline doesn’t stop us from using it to drive our cars. That being said, safety can be considered in a number of ways. Methanol is a chemical that has benefits and risks compared to gasoline. Methanol burns cooler, which is one reason why racecars use it. It is also water soluble, so a spill is quickly and easily cleaned with water alone, rather than the noxious chemicals often used in attempts to clean up oil spills. The Replacement Fuels section has more information about methanol.
How do we know ethanol and methanol could work?
China and Brazil – the world’s third and fourth-largest energy consumers respectively – have shown the feasibility of creating a mass market for replacement fuels. China has been using methanol as a transportation fuel since the 1980s and is in the process of creating a methanol-based transportation system. Brazil has mandated the use of blended ethanol and gasoline since 1976 and today the lowest blend of gasoline is E20 (20% ethanol).
Is ethanol safe?
Ethanol is the alcohol used in alcoholic beverage. Ethanol is less toxic than both gasoline and methanol. However, ethanol poisoning can become an issue if too much alcohol is consumed.  
Since ethanol is grain alcohol, can I drink it?
Absolutely not. Despite the lower toxicity of ethanol compared to methanol and gasoline, it can still be lethal. In addition, various chemicals–including gasoline–are added to the fuel destined for your car. 

Fuels, Humans and the Environment

What do the proposed replacement fuels mean for climate change?
There is no easy answer for this, but it is difficult to match the end-to-end carbon impact of petroleum. The few lifecycle analyses that exist indicate that greenhouse gas emissions of replacement fuels range from slightly to substantially less than gasoline. In general, the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions generated by the lifecycle of replacement fuels strongly depend on the feedstock and production process. Processing guidelines can minimize emissions; therefore, it is unwise to unequivocally reject any feedstock. Such pre-determinations can prevent us from ending our oil addiction by effectively blocking oil in place.
What is fracking?
Fracking uses high-pressured water and chemicals to fracture underground rock formations and free methane (natural gas) trapped within. While it is more recently associated with natural gas, the technique was actually developed to acquire shale oil. Most fracking operations used today are associated with oil production (and other liquids) over natural gas production.
Should we avoid natural gas due to fracking?
Fracking for natural gas is a relatively new technology, and therefore has not yet been subjected to long-term review. The little that is known can be employed to promote specific points of view, both for and against fracking. Therefore, until more complete information is available, there is insufficient evidence for Fuel Freedom to make a recommendation. Writing off fracking altogether could starve our economy of critical energy sources and further our dependence on foreign oil. At the same time, natural gas resource development must be undertaken responsibly in order to avoid pollution of freshwater supplies and undue risk to the environment and our health. With that said, one must take into account the fact that a large portion of our oil production in the US is a result of fracking or other such “stimulation”. Therefore, as comparative analysis goes, the environmental impact of natural gas use is much smaller than use of oil.
What are CAFE standards?
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards are established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce tailpipe emissions and improve air quality. CAFE is calculated based on a formula that takes into account all the vehicles sold by each manufacturer in a year.
Gasoline additives have been implicated in causing cancer, do replacement fuels require the same additives?
Harmful aromatic compounds commonly known as BTX–for benzene, toluene, and xylene–are often added to boost the octane rating of gasoline. In addition to their collective role in chemical reactions that cause upper respiratory problems, benzene is itself a carcinogen. The inherently high octane ratings of ethanol and methanol eliminate the need for these additives.
How can replacement fuels complement CAFE standards?
Even with increasingly fuel-efficient cars, combustion of gasoline produces toxic emissions that affect air quality and increase the risk of human upper respiratory health ailments such as asthma. Replacement fuels produce fewer toxic emissions overall, and can therefore accelerate the air quality improvements sought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Do we really need to choose between fuel and food?
No. Agriculture yields have dramatically increased, thanks to technology advances. Thus, in the case of U.S. corn, the dramatic increase in corn ethanol production has not reduced the supply of corn for human consumption.

At a broader level, enabling a truly open market is the best way to diversify our fuel options and mitigate the impact on any single resource. By increasing the pool of feedstocks used to produce fuels, we avoid overly taxing a single resource or area. The Mythbusting section has more information about the food vs. fuel debate.