Seeking: 50 donations for Fuel Freedom Month

All month we’ve been talking about what fuel choice means. We spent one week on each of our core issue impact areas: the environment, the economy, and national security.

Now, to close out the month, we’re looking for 50 new donors to pitch in and help fund the future of the fight for fuel choice — one donor to represent each state in the U.S. Will you be one of them?

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When you support Fuel Freedom Foundation with a tax-deductible donation, you’ll be supporting our ongoing work to secure a future where everyone has a choice at the gas pump — and we’re not just talking about regular or premium.

Automotive testing: Currently there’s only one fully EPA-certified kit available for individuals to convert a regular vehicle to flex-fuel. Interest and demand exist, so we’re working to enable more conversion options.

Research: We partner with think tanks and universities to push the envelope … with research on different fuel types and their benefits for the public. Read more here: http://www.fuelfreedom.org/our-work/initiatives/research-partners/

Outreach: The issue of fuel choice is complex, and the airwaves are full of misinformation about the various fuels. Our robust communications program (including our documentary PUMP which has been viewed by tens of thousands) seeks to educate, inform and hopefully inspire our many supporters to demand fuel choice.

Join our movement as an active supporter with a donation today.

Donate

Here’s what Americans are telling us about the price of gas

We asked, and you delivered.

At the start of our “Share Your Story” campaign, Fuel Freedom Foundation sent out the call: Tell us how volatile gasoline prices, which peak and plunge without warning or explanation, affect your daily life.

We got dozens of responses, from all age groups and all regions of the country. Here are some of the best:

 

 “I would love cheaper gas prices, because my boyfriend and I share my van, and several days a week, I have to drive him to work, then go back home, run errands, or take kids to school, then go back and get him later. It takes a lot of gas to do that.”
— Eileen N., Selma, N.C.

“I can’t raise my wage whenever I want. It’s hard to budget when you know they will raise the price every week — just ’cause they can, I guess.”
— Tim H., Coldwater, Michigan

“Fuel prices are the only thing in my budget that I can’t consistently account for … it’s infuriating.”
— Manny L., Daly City, California

“My new granddaughter lives in Odessa, and I can’t afford to take my medications AND go to see her on my fixed income. Groceries and goods are transported to stores by truck, and higher fuel prices are passed on to the consumer by increased food and goods prices. My dollar isn’t worth as much with the higher fuel prices. If gas goes up to $4 a gallon again, I will barely afford food and clothing, much less any traveling to see my granddaughter. Our economy will suffer greatly if fuel prices don’t stabilize around $2 a gallon or less.”
— Gary S., Rowlett, Texas

“I spend about $300 to $500 a month in fuel. There are some months that we are struggling to pay for food. The trade-off is that the rent is cheaper the further you are from the city, but the gas is killing us.”
— Abe F.

“I’m on SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance]. When fuel prices go up or stay high, it’s really simple to explain: I have less food to eat, and I might not be able to buy all my medicine. I have also had to cancel some appointments. Sometimes doctors have to be put off for a later date!”
— Steven D., Des Plaines, Illinois

“I drive a car with 40 miles to the gallon, and I am still struggling with gas prices. Especially soaring gas prices in Arizona. During the Super Bowl, gas prices dropped to $1.70 a gallon. It was such a stress relief having to pay $15 to fill up my gas tank for the week. But after that week was over, gas prices went up to $2.49 in just a week. It is unfair that big companies do this to people. I can’t even imagine how people live with bigger engines. Having to shovel $80 for a tank that lasts a week.”
— Thomas M., Phoenix

“Gas prices have kept me from seeing my brother, who is 75 years old and lives 240 miles from me. He won’t be around forever, but the jerks screwing us with high gas prices will. I hope they someday get judged on making travel for the retired so hard. They need to lose all their money and see what it’s like.”
— Calvin

We’ll be posting more responses over the next week or so. If you’re wondering what you can do about the unending rollercoaster of oil and gas prices, there’s plenty, so visit our Take Action page, where you can learn more about our mission to reduce oil consumption. You can sign our petition asking major fueling retailers, like Costco, to offer consumers alternative fuels.

Also, check out our companion site, which is all about the stupendously great documentary film PUMP.

This guy watched PUMP, got mad, and went looking for E85

Glenn Peterson watched PUMP the Movie on iTunes recently. And frankly, it made him angry. Which can be a good thing, if you take that anger and turn it into something constructive.

The part of the film that motivated Glenn to do his small part to end our oil addiction was when Jason Bateman, in that soothing voice of his, mentions that you can look on the Internet to find fueling stations that sell ethanol blends. As it happened, Glenn already owned a flex-fuel vehicle, a 2011 Chrysler Town & Country. Like 17 million other FFVs on the road in the U.S., it was made to run on E85.

Glenn went on E85Prices.com and found a Propel Fuels station about 10 miles from his home in San Diego that sells E85 (a blend that’s actually between 51 percent and 83 percent ethanol, the rest traditional gasoline).

“It was $3.06,” Glenn said, noting that regular 87-octane gas, E10, was selling for about 20 percent more. “So I filled up then, and anytime I thought of it afterwards, I would go there. It’s a little out of the way, but not that far out of the way.

“If a bunch of people do a bunch of small things, it’s like one big thing. And unfortunately … I talk to people at where I work about E85, and it’s just amazing, the misconceptions. I work with a lot of really smart computer people … it’s like they’ve got that part of their mind closed. And I don’t get it.”

Glenn, 54, bought the van in 2012, and a few months later he drove his family to his hometown of Minot, N.D., on vacation. He already knew about FFVs and E85, but even though he was on the lookout for stations that sold the fuel, he couldn’t find any. On the trip back, they pulled off I-80 in Rock Springs, Wyo., and spotted an E85 sign at a Kum & Go station.

“My wife took a picture of me fueling up. I was just so happy I finally found it!” Glenn said.

But his wife drove the van more than he did, and it was just more convenient to fill up at Costco whenever she went shopping there. Then came PUMP, and now the Petersons are an E85 family.

So what got him so angry watching it?

“I was just so mad at [Standard Oil baron John D.] Rockefeller for everything he did, to basically get us into the mess we are now. But I’ll also admit the government and … we basically let that happen to us. So we are as addicted to oil as we can be.

“And oh by the way, I called Costco. I talked the guy who runs their gas program and asked him why they didn’t have E85. He didn’t think there would be a demand. And I’m like, ‘Well, you’re mistaken, sir.”

That reminds us, Glenn: After you’re done watching PUMP and ready to get involved, one of our projects is to convince as many independent fueling retailers (the ones who aren’t obliged to sell a particular oil company’s gasoline) as possible to offer alternative fuels to their customers.

Sign our petition asking them to do just that. And keep sharing your stories about high gas prices and solutions with us! You can also join the conversation on Fuel Freedom’s Facebook page and on Twitter.

Minnesota, land of many lakes and E85 pumps

Minnesota is nicknamed “the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but it actually has 11,842 of them.

The state also has a lot more ethanol pumps than most people realize: There are 292 locations in 205 cities where drivers can fill up on E85 ethanol blend, according to E85Prices.com. That’s more than any other state. By comparison, California, which has about seven times the population, has only 88 E85 stations. The state where the Los Angeles Lakers call home also has only about 3,000 lakes, but who’s counting.

It’s no accident that Minnesota is ahead of the national curve on ethanol as a gasoline alternative. The state is No. 3 in the country in corn production, behind only Iowa and Nebraska. Minnesota also produces a lot of ethanol, and several plants sell directly to retailers. The relatively short supply chain between product and consumer has made the price point for Minnesota ethanol very attractive: The average price per gallon of E85 on Wednesday was $1.95, 21.1 percent cheaper than E10.

(For drivers who place cost above all other fuel factors, E85 needs to be about 20 percent cheaper than E10 to break even, when the reduced energy content of E85 is taken into account.)

It’s not just bountiful crops and plentiful fueling stations that make E85 so prevalent in Minnesota: It’s the years of momentum built by state officials, who have made the case that ethanol is not only cost-effective, but cleaner and better for air quality and the environment than gasoline.

Robert Moffitt, communications director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota, based in St. Paul, says the chapter has been touting the health benefits of ethanol since 1998, when the Department of Energy selected the Twin Cities area, Chicago and Denver as pilot markets for E85.

“This was at a time when Minnesota had four or five E85 stations,” Moffitt said. “We really did not have a lot in those days. But they just wanted to see whether E85 was promoted in an area, would people use it? If we built it, would they come? And we found out that they would.”

Minn car3Association staffers drive around the state in two alt-fuel vehicles: A Ford Fusion flex-fuel (which is pictured as “Clean Air on a Stick,” a nod to all the foods-on-a-stick at the Minnesota State Fair) and a Ford F-150 flex-fuel. “We have never put gasoline in those vehicles. They have run exclusively on E85 ever since we got them.”

Moffitt says biofuels aren’t a partisan issue like they are in other states. Years ago, then-Gov. Jesse Ventura (the wrestler known as “Jesse the Body,” and the “Predator” actor who made the line “Ain’t got time to bleed” immortal) expressed skepticism about promoting ethanol.

“It wasn’t quite getting through to him,” Moffitt said. “And then the commissioner of agriculture told him, ‘We wouldn’t have to import nearly as much oil from the Middle East.’ And he kind of looked up and smiled and said, ‘I like that.’ That was reason enough for Jesse.”

Despite all the benefits of E85 as a way to reduce consumption of oil, Moffitt acknowledges that “price is always going to be a deciding factor for a lot of people.” But expand the argument to the overall economy, and E85 makes even more sense.

“It’s still an excellent bargain, and it’s still a fuel that helps support our local economy,” he said. “When you purchase E85 instead of gasoline, not only are you helping to prevent about, on average, 5 tons of air pollutants going into the air per year per vehicle, but more of that dollar that you spend is going back into your community, it’s going back into the farming communities, it’s going back to the local retailers, it stays here in the U.S. And of course E85 has the great ability that gasoline doesn’t: We can grow more. … it’s made right here in the Upper Midwest; it’s an American-made product. I see no reason why, if you have a flex-fuel vehicle, and this fuel is available, why you’re not using it.”

Moffitt4“Even here in Minnesota, there are those who doubt, but that’s their choice. We want to make sure they have a choice. We want to make sure that, for the first time in 100 years, Americans have a choice at the pump … if they want to stick with traditional gasoline, that is their choice. But wouldn’t it be great if we all had a choice to pick something else, something that was cleaner, made in America, and didn’t support countries that don’t like us so much?”

Ethanol can be made from many “feedstocks,” not just corn. Whatever is nearby and abundant is the best source for fuel to be made and sold domestically.

Tell us about what you’re doing to make the switch to alternative fuels: Leave a comment or e-mail us at [email protected]

Share your story of gas-price outrage

In the 1976 movie “Network,” the news anchor Howard Beale, sopping wet and on the edge, invited viewers to stick their heads out their windows and yell that they were mad as hell, and they weren’t going to take it anymore.

To listen to our audience, all Fuel Freedom has to do is poke our heads into the modern window to the world, Facebook, and hear people venting about what they’re mad about. Lately, that’s the price of gas.

When we posted yet another rising-gas-prices story to our Facebook page last week, we asked our followers to tell us what gas prices were where they lived. More than 70 people chimed in, from all over the country, to let us know. ($3.87 in Pasadena, really?) They also shared their unvarnished feelings about the impact that the recent price spike has had on their family budgets.

I followed up with one of the mad-as-hellers, Ann Kooi of Pahrump, Nevada. Her husband Larry drives 150 miles round-trip, east to North Las Vegas and back, for his job as a heavy-equipment mechanic. He has to fill up his Kia Soul every other day, bringing his total gasoline bill to almost what it was last year before prices plummeted, roughly $75 a week.

“When the price of gas goes up, it hurts us bad, big time,” said Ann, 59. “We rob Peter to pay Paul.”

She and Larry, 60, know it would be easier to move to Las Vegas, but they feel they’re priced out of the market. They had rented an apartment in the city for $500 a month, but Ann says their rent went up and they couldn’t afford to stay.

The price of gas in Nevada averaged $2.826 a gallon Tuesday, up from $2.219 a month earlier, according to GasBuddy.com. Nationally, it was $2.453, compared with $2.060 a month earlier. It has to be said that prices were much higher one year ago: $3.45 in Nevada and $3.463 nationally.

But the average national price for E85 ethanol blend, we should point out, was just $1.96 on Tuesday, according to E85Prices.com.

It’s the volatility, the unexpected price shock, that makes it impossible to predict how much cash you’ll need to get to payday. And consumers everywhere are frustrated by the multiple factors, and lack of warning, that went into the latest spike.

“They find every excuse in the book to raise the prices. And they keep us in limbo, and we can’t get ahead, no matter how hard we try,” Ann said.

Tell us your story about what the rising price of gas has cost you, and tell us what you’re prepared to do about it.

If you want to be profiled in a “Share Our Story” post, send your contact info to [email protected]

NASCAR revs up for fifth season on E15 at Daytona

When the green flag drops in the 57th Daytona 500 on Sunday, it will mark the beginning of the fifth season NASCAR has run its cars on E15 ethanol blend.

No matter what you’ve heard about E15, don’t expect to see any of the roaring Chevy SS cars to sputter, stall or blow a hose because of the fuel.

Not only do the cars achieve better performance on the 98-octane fuel, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing has praised E15 because it emits fewer toxins into the environment, and it’s made from domestically produced resources.

“NASCAR conducted an exhaustive analysis before making the seamless transition to Sunoco Green E15, a race fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last July, when the circuit celebrated 6 million miles of racing run on the fuel. “As we eclipse 6 million tough competition miles across our three national series, we can definitively say this renewable fuel stands up to our rigorous racing conditions while significantly reducing our impact on the environment.”

Sunoco had been the official fuel supplier for NASCAR for years, but in 2010 the circuit announced it would ditch its previous 98-octane unleaded racing fuel and adopt Green 15, so named because of its green color. All cars and trucks across NASCAR’s three series — the Camping World Truck Series, the XFINITY Series and the big dog, the Sprint Cup Series — have run on the fuel since the 2011 season, with no problems.

“You can imagine the heat and the duress that these engines are under,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of development at Growth Energy, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association that represents ethanol producers and advocates. “The fuel burns at a little bit lower temperature, so the stress on the engine is less. And when they take those engines apart after the races, they find that the brittleness of the metal just isn’t there like it was before. And on top of that, keep in mind, people sometimes say, ‘Well, NASCAR’s not the same as street cars. There’s a lot of truth to that, but when it comes to the fueling system, the fueling system is exactly the same between the street cars and NASCAR. There’s no modification whatsoever on those fueling systems.”

Austin_Dillon2Growth Energy partnered with the National Corn Growers Association to create the American Ethanol Racing brand as a way to promote ethanol as a fuel for vehicles. American Ethanol sponsors Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon, who will be driving the No. 3 car (with the green logos) in Sunday’s Daytona 500. The green start flag even says “American Ethanol” on it. (See the rest of the starting lineup here.)

Ethanol supporters are hoping to get across the message that, yes, NASCAR’s race cars are different than the version ordinary people drive, but E15 is safe for most newer vehicles the general population drives. The EPA says E15 is approved for all cars and light-duty trucks from model year 2001 or newer.

There’s a movement around the country to allow gas stations to sell E15 at their pumps, joining the thousands of pumps that offer E10, a blend of up to 10 percent ethanol that is the “regular gas” the vast majority of America drives on. There are 113 locations in 16 states that sell E15. But there has been resistance among some quarters. Many cling to the “ethanol will damage my car” fear.

“The cost of E15 is generally a little less than the regular 87 [octane E10], and with E15 the octane’s a little better, so they get a little bit better performing product at a lower price. Now what consumer wouldn’t want that?

Sunoco says Green 15 ethanol is made from corn, and is blended at its facility in Marcus Hook, Pa. By the time NASCAR announced it was adopting Green 15 as its official fuel, it had undergone extensive testing to make sure it wouldn’t damage engine parts. “E15 is the most-tested fuel ever on the planet,” O’Brien said.

Thanks to that hard work, and NASCAR’s commitment, no matter who takes the checkered flag Sunday, America wins.

(Photos: Top, Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Childress Racing car. Credit: ZimmComm New Media, Flickr.com. Inset, Dillon in 2012. Credit: American Ethanol, Flickr.com )

This Oklahoma mechanic helped us out. Now it’s our turn

When director Josh Tickell went looking for a true believer about compressed natural gas for the 2014 documentary PUMP, he rang up about 50 CNG-conversion businesses all over the country. Todd Bradshaw stepped up and offered to help.

The owner of Bradshaw Automotive Repair & CNG in Owasso, Oklahoma, just outside of Tulsa, “was totally honest and invited us to come into his shop right away,” Tickell says. “He just seemed like a really great and genuine person.”

Todd turned out to be one of the most endearing stars of PUMP, extolling the benefits of CNG as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to gasoline for cars and trucks. In the film, he notes that the fuel is produced with domestic resources. “I believe in this. I believe in CNG with all my heart. … It’s cleaner, it’s better, it’s abundant. It’s right here in America. It’s American.”

Dana2Now Todd and his family need some help from his fellow man. He says his wife Dana has a tumor in her brain, wrapped around her pituitary gland. She’s scheduled to have surgery to try to remove it next month, but she only recently started a new job, and doesn’t qualify for the family leave she needs to recover. The Bradshaws created a GoFundMe page, where they’re asking for donations to help pay the bills while she takes a few months off to convalesce from surgery.

“Honestly, I wish I was well-to-do, where she could just stay at home and rest her head until she has the surgery,” he said. “But I’m not, so she’s doing the best she can.”

Todd, 46, started with CNG conversions in 1999, “before it was cool,” he said. But the price swoon in gasoline that started last summer has reduced demand for installing the systems, which start at about $5,000.

“We’re just treading water,” he said. “We do automotive work too, but CNG was our bread and butter. So we’re hanging in there, but it’s really tough. If it was strong obviously, I never would have asked for help. ‘Cause that’s just not me. I’ve never asked for a dollar. But my wife’s important to me.

“She’s awesome, and she deserves to rest and get this thing fixed, and get back to where she was.”

Dana, 45, started showing symptoms several months ago: She’d forget to shut the door of her SUV when she’d returned to their home in Collinsville. Such memory lapses were unusual, because “Man, she can remember stuff like you wouldn’t believe,” Todd said. He and their two children — Dylan, 21, and Ashley, 17 — grew increasingly worried when Dana’s headaches, which started about a year ago, steadily worsened.

Doctors discovered the mass around her pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, behind the bridge of the nose. It not only promotes growth, but controls other hormonal glands as well, including the thyroid and adrenal glands. The surgeon will go through Dana’s nose to reach the tumor. Only after analyzing it will doctors be able to tell whether it’s benign or cancerous.

The procedure is scheduled for spring break, in late March, so Dana won’t have to miss any time from work: She’s a cafeteria cook for schoolchildren in the nearby town of Sperry.

“The doctor said she needed to be off a long time, and there’s no way her bills and our bills are gonna allow that,” Todd said.

Many people in the alternative-fuel industry, including some of the contributors to PUMP, have been hit hard by the volatility in the oil market. So we felt compelled to share Todd’s story and spread the word about his dilemma. Please help him if you can.

 

Angry about rising gas prices? Do something about it

Silly American driver. Did you think gas prices were going to stay low forever?

When we say low, we should really say “low,” with derisive air quotes, because gas prices never really got to what a historian would certify as “low” anyway, even after crude oil dropped 60 percent between June and January. As New York Times columnist David Leonhardt noted in late January, for 17 years — from the beginning of 1986 to the end of 2002 — gasoline averaged $1.87 a gallon.

But gasoline had soared so high over the past decade that a sudden drop late last year, which pushed prices down to $2 or less in many places, felt like a tax holiday.

Well, holiday season is officially over. Oil set another 2015 high on Tuesday, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, rising $1.13 to $62.53. The peak of the session, $63, was the highest level it’s reached since Dec. 18.

The surge — which caught analysts and experts off-guard, just as the plunge did before it — wasted no time in carrying over to the pump. According to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the national average Tuesday was $2.259, up from $2.185 a week before and $2.076 a month before.

In some states, obviously, it’s climbed higher and faster than others. At my neighborhood station in Southern California, the price for basic 87-octane went from $2.39 to $2.85 in only a few weeks. At a different station across the intersection, the price has tracked an identical arc. I imagine the owners watching each other with infrared binoculars late at night, ready to hoist new digits onto their respective marquees when one rival dares to up the ante a dime.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, wrote Monday:

“Motorists in California are getting a taste of the sourness that will hit across the country in a month or two as Los Angeles switches over to cleaner burning gasoline, followed by San Francisco in short order, with the rest of the nation making moves in the weeks and months ahead. I’m also starting to hear more frustration from motorists about rising prices- and while the concerns are well rooted, they should take solace that gas prices this summer are still expected to be some $1/gal lower than last summer.”

Raise your hand if you’re in the mood for some solace.

Drivers are more likely to feel confused and exasperated by the inexplicable price spikes and the baseless predictions.

If you’re angry about rising gas prices ebbing away at the money you thought you were saving last fall, you can do something about it: First, watch PUMP the movie, on Amazon, iTunes, DVD or at a public screening. Second, convince your friends to watch it, or volunteer to host a screening in your city. (Do you get the idea we want people to watch this important film?) Third, sign our petition urging fueling retailers to make alternative fuels, like E85, available to consumers.

Ending our reliance on oil as the only fuel option for vehicles is possible in the next few years, but only if we act. It sure beats complaining about the price of gas.

Now you can watch PUMP the Movie on Amazon

PUMP has landed on Amazon, so viewers now have multiple ways to watch this terrific documentary in the comfort of their homes. Or the comfort of their offices, commuter trains or coffee shops. Wherever they feel comfortable, really.

PUMP is available for download onto your favorite digital device, or for viewing on Amazon’s video streaming service. The cost for purchase is $12.99 ($13.99 for high-definition). To rent it for seven days, the cost is $4.99 ($5.99 HD).

Visit the PUMP link on Amazon to learn more. If you’ve seen the movie already, post a review!

As Chris Meloni points out, it’s important to search for the right flick: It’s PUMP the Movie, not something else. But if you want to watch that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie too, go for it.

PUMP, narrated by Jason Bateman, chronicles the story of oil and how it came to be virtually our only choice for a transportation fuel. The film shows how we can use a multitude of domestically produced fuels, like ethanol, methanol and compressed natural gas, to reduce oil consumption. Displacing a portion of the oil we guzzle will strength the economy, improve national security, reduce pollution’s impact on health, and protect the environment. There’s also cool stuff about Tesla and race cars.

PUMP also is available through Apple’s iTunes store. If the big screen is the way you’d prefer to see this important film (and hey, why wouldn’t you, with such great work by filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell), there are several upcoming screenings on campuses and other venues around the country, including Arizona State University, UCLA and the Utah Film Center in Moab. You can also organize your own screening!

Visit PumpTheMovie.com for more information.

If you haven’t experienced the convenience and visual quality of Amazon’s video service, check it out. Not only can you download content onto your laptop, tablet or phone, you can add it at home using certain TVs, Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles and other devices. As Business Insider writes, Amazon is nearly as popular as Netflix.

Speaking of Netflix, PUMP is coming to that service soon. Check back for a date.

Americans used to ride cheap trolleys. Then we burned them

One of the many fascinating storylines in the documentary PUMP (which is now available for download on iTunes) is the yarn about how several companies got together to take on a common enemy: popular, affordable electric trains and trolleys that criss-crossed the nation early in the 20th century. That’s a very different country than we live in today, when the automobile is as ingrained in our culture and economy as ever. As former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister puts it in the film:

“We live in a society in which we rely on personal mobility as the primary means of transportation. And there’s no public transportation system to rely upon in the United States of America as an alternative to high prices or shortages.”

Narrator Jason Bateman follows up:

“America wasn’t always without transportation choices. Once upon a time, we had the best and cheapest public transportation in the world.”

Bateman then gives way to an expert on this subject, Edwin Black, whose book Internal Combustion details the effort to target the trolleys. Black explains in PUMP:

“People loved the trolleys. They could hop off, they could hop on … all the trolleys ran on electricity. It was said that you could go from San Diego to New York City on a trolley just by transferring, transferring and transferring.”

In the 1930s and ’40s, five companies — Standard Oil, Mack Truck, Firestone, Phillips and General Motors — colluded to create a secret company that bought up all the trolley lines and passenger cars.

“… the rails were pulled up, the trolley cars themselves were burned in public bonfires [as seen in the photo above], and they replaced them with smelly, oil-consuming motor buses. Eventually, the federal government discovered that this was a conspiracy to subvert mass transit. All five corporations were indicted, they were tried, they were found guilty. A corporate conspiracy was responsible for destroying the trolleys in America.”

The reckoning was a little late, however. Back to Bateman:

“With cheap public electric transportation eliminated by oil and car companies, the vision of America’s future switched from rails to roads.”

That led to the interstate highway system, which only intensified our love affair with the automobile. A relationship that relies, essentially, on just one fuel type: gasoline. Of course, many of today’s municipal bus fleets run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). And rail projects are often on the minds of planners. But getting away from gas-burning transport has been a difficult road, as anyone following the fight over California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project knows. To get a sense of how the story of oil’s dominance came to, and to see what you can do to end our addiction to it, watch PUMP. (Photo credit: Submarine Deluxe)