Renewable fuels supports a lot of U.S. jobs, and that number could grow

The United States imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, out of the 19 million barrels we consume. Thirty-seven percent of imported oil comes from our pal Canada, but 35 percent comes from not-quite-as-cuddly OPEC nations.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If we used American natural resources to create more transportation fuel at home, we wouldn’t be so beholden to foreign countries that don’t have our best interests in mind. Fuel choice at the pump means fuels compete for our money, and that’s a better deal for consumers.

But just as important — maybe more important — investing more fuel money in American-made products would mean investing in American-based jobs. A larger sector producing U.S.-made alcohol fuels would create a generation of new jobs, providing economic stability in a volatile transportation fuels market.


An ethanol train rolls through Iowa.

The ethanol industry, which accounts for about 10 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S., already employs hundreds of thousands of Americans: According to an analysis commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol sector accounted for 357,407 full-time equivalent positions in 2015. This includes jobs directly related to the farming of (inedible) corn and processing it into ethanol, but also indirect jobs like construction, transportation and retail.

The report, produced by Pennsylvania-based ABF Economics, said:

Economic activity and associated jobs produce income for American households. The economic activities of the ethanol industry put nearly $24 billion into the pockets of Americans in 2015.

A wide range of alternative fuels — including hydrogen, compressed natural gas and biodiesel — have their own production processes and supply chains, requiring U.S.-based workers to make them. We should be making more domestically produced fuel from whatever feedstock makes economic sense depending on the region, whether it’s corn stover, natural gas or others. Think of the jobs that could be created and sustained if we got that imported oil number down.

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