Of the $1.3 billion the federal government spends fueling its hundreds of thousands vehicles each year, the vast majority — 78 percent — is spent on gasoline. But if the Navy has its way, it may not be that way for much longer.
Approximately 30 percent of U.S. government vehicles are flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), meaning they can run on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. And the U.S. wants to make sure those vehicles are taking full advantage of the high-octane fuel.
As reported by the Navy Exchange Service Command’s Public Affairs office:
“Using E85 reduces our country’s reliance on foreign oil and burns cleaner than gasoline, reducing hydrocarbon emissions,” says Larry Boone, Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Automotive Program Manager. “Not only that, but E85 is produced in the U.S., mostly from corn feedstock, and that keeps the American farmer in business.”
The price of E85, in general, runs about 10 to 25 cents cheaper than regular unleaded gas and according to some studies, E85 emits less hydrocarbons, or Green House Gases (GHGs).
However, military officials are worried that some of their FFVs aren’t being fueled by American-made E85. The reason? People simply don’t know they’re supposed to be using the alternative fuel.
Instead of just wringing their hands though, the Navy — which has been a proponent of alternative fuels for a while now — is investigating different ways ensure their service members are fueling up with E85. Besides building more stations that carry E85, the Navy is looking into putting stickers on their vehicles’ gas caps and dashboards, as well as hanging tags on the rearview mirror of each car.
It’s an important, and admirable, mission. For starters, one of the major reasons E85 hasn’t caught on more broadly in the United States — despite there being more than 19 million FFVs on the road — is a lack of fueling infrastructure. What’s more, the main reason gasoline is still the primary fuel used in our vehicles is because of oil’s monopoly on our transportation sector that stifles fuel choice. This initiative is working directly to combat that by reducing our dependence on gasoline while simultaneously promoting alternative fuels like E85 and building more stations — many of which are available to civilians as well.
Just another reasons to love our armed forces and all they do for us on a daily basis.