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Time to declare independence from expensive oil

shutterstock_194720870Happy Fourth, America. Take the day off. Take three days off, actually.

On this day, 238 years after the phrase “Put your John Hancock right here” was born, we celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence from Britain in different ways. We can run a 5K, stay put and watch a parade, buy a hundred bucks’ worth of rockets’ red glare at the fireworks stand, or keep the home fires burning at the grill.

Many of us will observe that most American of traditions – climbing into our cars and hitting the open road. AAA Travel estimates that 41 million Americans are venturing at least 50 miles from home sometime between July 2-6. Eighty percent of them, 34.8 million people, are choosing vehicles as their mode of transport. That’s the highest number since 2007, before the recession.

We cherish our “unalienable rights,” as the Founding Fathers decreed on that mild 76-degree day in Philadelphia (Jefferson took note of the temperature) on July 4, 1776. But our freedom to choose our own destiny ends once we pull up to the gas pump.

At the pump, our only fuel choice is gasoline refined from crude oil. Although domestic oil production keeps growing, surging demand here and around the world has kept prices inflated. The U.S. average for a gallon of regular unleaded on June 24 was $3.667 in the U.S., according to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That’s 19 cents higher than a year ago.

Fuel Freedom Foundation is working to bring competition to the U.S. transportation fuel marketplace for the first time by making it easier to obtain other fuels like ethanol and methanol. These fuels, which can be made from abundant natural gas, are cheaper to buy and cleaner to burn than gasoline. Giving consumers choices will give them more money to spend, create jobs, improve health and mark the beginning of the end of our addiction to imported oil.

We don’t have to accept high gas prices as a fact of life. We can fight back. Just ask the guys in the powdered wigs who put pen to paper more than two centuries ago.