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Make a fuel choice resolution for 2015

Resolution time, people: Forget the gym, forget cleaning out the garage, forget writing that novel.

Resolve to start small in helping the economy and helping the environment in 2015: Sign the “fuel choice resolution” on the Fuel Freedom website today.

No. 1 on the list is: Watch PUMP the movie, of course. The documentary is coming to iTunes on Jan. 13, and is available now for pre-order. If you happen to be in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 2, you can also catch a special screening put on by the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

No. 2 among the resolutions: Sign our petition asking that major independent fueling retailers like Costco and Walmart make ethanol available at their locations.

No. 3: Shopping for a new or used vehicle? Look for one that’s branded as flex-fuel. Then you’ll know it’s ready to rock with ethanol blends.

No. 4: Come up with your own idea about how you can promote fuel choice in the new year. Something that means a lot to you.

Go to the page on our website for the full list of resolutions, then share your pledge on social media.

Thanks, and Happy New Year! Let’s all work together in 2015 to make a diversified transportation fuel market one step closer to reality.

 

 

Meet the PUMP players: Phil and Cheryl Near, selling ethanol as God’s work

One of the most compelling moments in the documentary PUMP comes when we’re introduced to Phil and Cheryl Near, who own two gas stations called Jump Start in Wichita, Kansas.

They’re not ordinary stations, however: They could be the fueling stations of the future, because they sell ethanol as well as traditional gasoline.

Phil Near, 51, has worked in the gasoline business virtually his entire adult life, and only a few years back discovered that there were alternatives, like ethanol. Now he and Cheryl offer it to customers, spreading the word about the benefits of fuel choice. “Once they try it, they usually come back and buy it again,” Phil says in the film.

More importantly, he says selling ethanol “is a moral obligation. We feel like we’re doing the Lord’s work.”

To learn more about the film, visit PumpTheMovie.com, and just in time for Christmas, you can give the gift of thought-provoking debate by pre-ordering your digital copy on iTunes prior to its Jan. 13 launch.

Until then, here’s a Q&A we did with Phil and Cheryl recently about their work and their passion:

Fuel Freedom: People who believe in alternatives to oil were caught off guard by the drop in oil prices. How do you handle it when people say: “Gas is so cheap, so why do we need to consider alternatives?”

Phil: People who have made the decision to use E85 are going to do that, as long as it doesn’t cost them more money. Some will use it no matter what. I think that having a lower price, where the economics are better for the consumer, will continue to drive new customers as they acquire cars that are flex vs. cars that are not. (The price) is inverted right now: It actually costs us more money than gasoline does now. So we’re losing margin today because we feel like we have to be competitive between the two products to maintain our customer base. That’s not necessarily a good place to be, but it’ just kind of a reality of the fuel business. … Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and you don’t like it, but you’ve got to just fight the fight.

FF: How much do you pay for the ethanol you sell?

Phil: At one store we sell E85, and then we have the three grades of gasoline (87, 89 and 91). At the second store we have 87 and 91, then we have E15, E30 and E85. Our cost today on unleaded is a little over $2, retails $2.28, which is an abnormally large margin because the price is falling faster at the rack than the street, but it’s catching up. E85, we’re matching the unleaded price, $2.28. But it’s costing us about 15 cents a gallon more than that.

FF: What needs to happen to move the needle to create more flex-fuel vehicles, or create more stations?

Cheryl: One of the big things is education. My daughter had a car worked on at a dealership in town. I was talking to some of the service guys … and I talked about what we do, (that) we sell E85. And this guy goes, “Oh, I tell all my customers, ‘Don’t put E85 in your car. It’s bad for your car; it burns hotter.’ “ And I go, ‘Well, actually, it burns cooler, and higher octane is good for your car.’ “ But the oil companies have spent so much money with all this negative propaganda, and a lot of people have fallen into it. Car dealerships are the worst. They are telling their people not to use E85 in their flex-fuel vehicles, from the experiences that I’ve had.

FF: It’s amazing that a dealership would tell someone not to put E85 in a flex-fuel vehicle when it’s built to run on it.

Cheryl: And in the state of Kansas, there’s a $750 tax credit, if you use 500 gallons in a calendar year. And the dealerships aren’t telling people, they’re not promoting that. So people could be using E85 and getting that tax credit, and they’re just leaving it on the table, because the dealerships – whether they don’t know about it, or they just don’t want to tell people about it – it’s not being promoted.

FF: In the film you talk about selling ethanol being “the Lord’s work.” What does that mean to you?

Phil: At one time I had one of the largest fuel-distribution companies in the Midwest (Crescent Oil Co.). And it really wasn’t until I was out of that company that I understood how much control not only do the oil companies have on what happens here in the U.S., but how much control there is worldwide on energy. And I have a real passion for the fact that I feel like our great country is being stripped of its wealth for energy, and our jobs are going away. We’re right on the edge of Oklahoma, so during the oil heyday, we saw what that did economically for the communities and the people. And when the oil business went away, it really damaged a lot of towns in Oklahoma, and southern Kansas, and Texas. Back in 2006, I started learning a little bit about E85 and kind of the push, with a few ethanol plants being built in the Midwest. I saw what it does as far as creating opportunities. In small towns, these rural towns where these plants are being built, it’s a major impact on the communities.

But what most people don’t even think about every time they fill their car up with gas is, we’re sending the money we pay for energy out of our country. I call it “stripping the wealth.” Obviously, renewables is what I really feel like we’re supposed to be doing. Obviously it’s better for the economy, it’s better for the environment. We’re stewards of this Earth, and we need to be taking care of it. Oil is dirty energy; coal is dirty energy. These things that pollute the environment, as well as really hurt the financial position of our great country.

Cheryl: As a female and a mother, my biggest fear is that we’ll be a generation (or maybe the next generation) that completely depletes all of the fossil-fuel reserves, and then we’re leaving great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, in a mess. This generation, if we don’t start working on this, we’re leaving a really big mess for future generations. I really worry about that. In the Bible, it says we’re supposed to be stewards of the Earth. God left it for us to take care of. I say it in the documentary: “I think we’re messing up.” I don’t think we’re doing a very good job.

Phil: I was taught something that really hit home, and that was: You can’t create energy; you can only transfer energy. Only the Lord created energy. And whether you transfer it from oil, or from wind or solar, or ethanol, from corn or whatever you may, we’re all missing the boat. It’s all transfer, it’s not created.

Cheryl: That actually came from my father (Ray Jones), who’s an engineer. But he was teaching us that: He said, ‘You can’t make energy, you transfer energy. And you lose a little energy every time you transfer it.’ We’d never really heard that before. We were kind of fascinated by that.

Phil: He was one of the design engineers on the NASA moon buggy; he was a pretty smart cat. But he taught us that. And every source (of energy) was one the Lord gave us.

I spent my whole career in the industry, and most people don’t stop and think, and I didn’t for a long time, that our economic model for the world is all controlled by energy. Everything. You can’t get food without energy, you can’t move goods and services. Everything is driven off energy, and we’ve been sending soldiers to war for a long time to protect energy that we don’t even own.

Meet the PUMP players: John Brackett, on a mission to convert gas-guzzling cars

John Brackett is one of the stars of the Fuel Freedom-produced documentary PUMP, but he’s more than just a pretty mutton-chopped face.

Brackett, an automotive engineer in Colorado who goes by the Twitter handle @Fuelverine, has spent a great deal of time promoting the film, which is now available for pre-order on iTunes.

Brackett specializes in tinkering with gasoline-powered engines — any kind, including vehicles and generators — to make them run on multiple types of fuel. But he’s also on a mission to educate the general public, as well as regulators. Converting one’s car to run on alternative fuels is technically not legal, as is using any fuel not specifically listed in the owner’s manual.

But once the public finds out that replacement fuels like ethanol, methanol and natural gas are not only cheaper but burn cleaner than gasoline, they’ll demand them in the marketplace. And they’ll want to learn how to convert their own cars. As Fuelverine says in PUMP: “That’s the best part about being an American: We don’t like it, we’ll change it.”

Fuel Freedom: Why aren’t all the vehicles rolling off the assembly lines labeled as flex-fuel?

John Brackett: The only reason they were ever flex-fuel in the first place was CAFÉ standards (Corporate Average Fleet Economy). And basically what they said is that, ‘Hey, your 6 miles per gallon Tahoe, since it only burns 15 percent gasoline [running on E85], is a 66 mpg vehicle!’ So your overall average for your fleet went up, and that’s why we only have flex-fuel in the giant V-8s and the V-6s. They very rarely went into the four-cylinders, and when they did, they canceled the model within 1-2 years, or even worse, they made it so you could only buy it if you were a commercial or rental fleet company. The [Chevy] Malibu is my favorite example: They made flex-fuel in 2010 for ’em, but it was only for the commercial or the rental fleets, and you couldn’t buy that four-cylinder from your local dealer. So there was never any incentive for them to actually make it mass-produced, they’re just doing it to hit the CAFÉ credits.

FF: Is it a case of companies only doing something because they have a financial incentive to?

JB: Exactly. I’m not usually a mandate-type person, but the Open Fuel Standard is the right type of mandate to allow competition right now. We just don’t have any options.

FF: What are you most interested in right now?

JB: My main thrust is actually making any engine run off of any fuel. I’ve built generators, I’ve gotten cars running on fuels, I’ve done hydrogen, ethane, methane, propane, butane, ethanol, methanol and gasoline. So my personal interest is being able to tell the computer what to change to run off those other fuels. What blew my mind was that the GM cars, and from what we’re told from several tuners, all the Ford cars since 2005, already have the algorithm in there. They literally turned it off. It’s in there.

FF: Is it possible for a car running on ethanol to get better mileage than gasoline?

JB: Basically, E85 has about 25 to 27 percent less energy in the same volume. So when you drive on the fuel, you would expect to lose that much gas mileage. What we found was that if you were driving on the stock flex-fuel from GM, you lost 25 to 30 percent, exactly what you would expect. When I started doing my tuning, and I would change the spark timing just a little bit – I varied it very small, and I did a lot of runs –and  when I treated the fuel as gasoline or with slight advancement in timing, we only lost 5 to 15 percent of our fuel mileage.

Let’s go to what GM has already done: GM has a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine out for the Buick Regal. That engine makes 5 to 15 percent more power on E85 than regular gasoline, while still getting the same fuel mileage. They have obviously tuned that car, so they have no problems doing it. Now, if we go to what is called direct-injection engines, which are definitely in the future … you can get even more efficiency out of it. You get another 15 to 20 percent efficiency increase by going to direct injection.

FF: If you look at prices of E85 around the country, there’s a big disparity [for example, it’s $2.09 in Iowa and $2.59 in Arizona, according to E85prices.com]. What will it take to get more consistency?

JB: If you have a bad original flex-fuel tune from a factory, you’re going to lose 30-40 percent [in mileage compared with gasoline]. Nobody wants to do that when it’s only 10 to 20 percent cheaper fuel. That’s one of the big reasons we try to use methanol as a big one, because it is so much cheaper, especially on a dollar-per-mile basis. But the ethanol fight, we just need more cars that have it as an option. Until we have that, you’re not going to have that market saturation. So if you think about where the cars are vs. the market, the numbers don’t add up. And that’s why we need every car to have the option to run a flex-fuel — on gasoline or ethanol or methanol, or any combination of them in the same tank.

FF: A constant refrain among the anti-ethanol crowd is that it damages engines.

JB: The biggest thing I like to tell people is, if you start with the first cars: They were all flex-fuel. They stopped being flex-fuel because of Prohibition. We have the materials, we know how to do this, we’ve been doing this for 30 years. Every car made since 2001 or ’02 has E10-compliant components. All the fuel lines, everything. And if you look at the corrosive nature of ethanol, it happens most between E10 and E30, so it’s actually very small blends of ethanol that cause the worst corrosion. But all the cars should already come to the factory with parts that work for it. There shouldn’t be any problem with it.

FF: Tell me about this conversion kit you’re using, by Flex Fuel U.S.

JB: They have the only E85-approved conversion system right now in the United States. What is different about their unit is it plugs into the oxygen sensor, so it reads the exact feedback from the oxygen system. So if it is lean [too much oxygen and not enough fuel], it should adjust. It plugs in line with the injectors as well, the difference being it doesn’t increase the injector pulse for the stock injectors; they add a whole new injector somewhere in the intake system, and flood the system that way. So they’re actually adding additional injectors to it. I’ve talked to the guy several times. Basically, he has to sell the kits for $1,100 to $1,500 right now, because it cost him $4 million to go through the EPA certification process. And that was only for 8 to 10 models. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the hindrance to competition. But he could easily, at mass scale, sell these for $300 to $500.

… We are now at the point where EPA is stopping us from getting clean air. They’re just making things more expensive.

(Photo: John Brackett dropping some knowledge to the assembled in Times Square, September 2014.)

Fight oil addiction on Cyber Monday: Pre-order PUMP on iTunes

Sure, you could spend your hard-earned money on just about anything on this Cyber Monday.

But while you’re busy pointing and clicking and helping the U.S. economy, don’t miss the chance to be among the first shoppers to pre-order the Fuel Freedom-produced documentary PUMP. It’s available for presale on iTunes.

Go to this link to learn more: http://bit.ly/1yyMEMD

The cost is $9.99 for standard definition, or $12.99 for high-def. By pre-ordering, you’ll be first in line when the film is released digitally on Jan. 13, 2015.

PUMP, directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, and narrated by Jason Bateman, tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly. The film combines fascinating historical context with inspiring, practical lessons from today. The film explains clearly and simply how we can end our oil dependence, and finally win choice at the pump.

PUMP-Poster_postForcing gasoline to compete at the pump with cleaner-burning, domestically produced replacement fuels like ethanol, methanol and compressed natural gas (CNG) will:

  • keep fuel costs low for consumers, insulating them from inevitable price shocks
  • strengthen the U.S. economy by keeping more of our fuel dollars here at home
  • create millions of jobs thanks to higher demand for homegrown fuels
  • improve air quality, bringing down incidence of asthma and heart disease
  • cut carbon emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere

Visit PumpTheMovie.com to watch the trailer; learn more about the making of the film; meet some of its stars (including Tesla founder Elon Musk and former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister); and read the favorable reviews PUMP received upon its release in theaters in September. Spend a few minutes on the site and you’ll see just how crucial this issue is for Americans.

Pre-order PUMP on iTunes today!

(Photo above: Auto engineer John Brackett shows in PUMP how to optimize a gasoline-powered vehicle to run other types of fuel, including cleaner-burning, higher-octane ethanol and methanol. Credit: Submarine Deluxe)

‘Pump’ No More: Taking America off Oil

Rebecca Harrell Tickell joins us to discuss ‘Pump,’ the critically acclaimed new documentary film she produced with her husband, Josh Tickell. Made with consumers in mind, the film shows Americans how many other alternatives to oil exist. Kicking the American addiction, Tickell says, is possible. She’ll tell us about meeting Tesla’s Founder, Elon Musk and Actor Jason Bateman’s role in narrating her film.

Listen to the Radio Interview at: TLV1

New Yorkers, brave the rain and check out PUMP

It’s Monday night, and it’s cold and raining. But if you live in Queens, how about some enlightened discussion about oil addiction to warm your soul?

The Sierra Club’s New York City group is screening the Fuel Foundation-produced documentary PUMP tonight at 7 p.m. at the Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Boulevard in Douglaston. Check the center’s site for driving and public-transportation directions.

The club is asking for donations: $3 for members of Sierra Club or Ashley Pond, $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be served.

Thelma Fellows, who chairs the outreach committee for NYC Sierra Club, says she saw PUMP when it was playing in Times Square in September. Its core message — that allowing replacement fuels like ethanol and methanol to compete with gasoline at the pump would save consumers money, create jobs, strengthen the nation and improve health and the environment — resonated.

“This opens people up to the idea that we don’t have to be so beholden to OPEC,” she said.

She added that she hopes to show the film elsewhere in New York, including Manhattan and outer boroughs like Staten Island.

PUMP also is playing in Boulder, Colo., and St. Johnsbury, Vt., this week. For theaters and showtimes, visit PUMPTheMovie.com.

To see what critics thought of PUMP, directed by Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, check out this post. Read viewer-contributed reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

If you’d like to show the film at your home, college or group, contact Fuel Freedom’s Gina Schumann at [email protected]

Ethanol documentary takes a provocative look at oil industry

A documentary designed to change the way people think about renewable fuels — called “PUMP The Movie” — has been showing around the country, including this week in Lincoln. Screened at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center for about 100 attendees at an event hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the film takes a provocative look at the oil industry, the grip it has on the nation’s motor fuels and what competition might mean if alternative fuels could gain a meaningful share of the nation’s gas tanks.

It is a question with Great Plains-sized ramifications for the Midwest, where Iowa and Nebraska rank first and third in corn production, and first and second in production of ethanol from corn. Iowa has 42 plants, Nebraska 24, part of a U.S. fleet of about 225 built with a capital investment of about $230 billion in recent years.

Read more at: North Platte Telegraph

Pump Our Envirionment

100 turn out for screening of PUMP in Nebraska

A documentary designed to change the way people think about renewable fuels — called “PUMP The Movie” — has been showing around the country, including this week in Lincoln. Screened at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center for about 100 attendees at an event hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the film takes a provocative look at the oil industry, the grip it has on the nation’s motor fuels and what competition might mean if alternative fuels could gain a meaningful share of the nation’s gas tanks.

Read more at: Omaha World Herald