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Letter: We need the right to choose ethanol

Do you think you have a choice of fuel for your car or pickup truck? Think again. Sure, you can drive out and see a bunch of gas stations -- different signs, different colors, some big national brands while others may be smaller independent stations -- but that's just the pretty packaging.

Under that fancy wrapping you have no choice. Your choice is made for you, by the oil companies and Washington rules that mandate you must pump at least 90 percent gasoline refined from oil as fuel.

The truth is, we Americans have a fuels market that is completely controlled by oil companies. The oil companies either own or control the entire infrastructure to dispense fuel in this country -- from the point of drilling the well to the point where that fuel nozzle goes into your car.

Americans deserve the freedom to choose their fuel.

There is a proposal by a group called Growth Energy that makes sense, and I want more Americans, particularly those who care about taxes and the national debt, to hear about it. Growth Energy's Fueling Freedom plan would let ethanol compete with oil by mandating a genuinely free and open market.

Given the choice, I believe most Americans would choose domestic ethanol over gasoline refined from imported oil. Ethanol is cheaper than gas, so it's easier on the pocketbook. Ethanol creates U.S. jobs instead of sending our money overseas to places like Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia.

Ethanol has much fewer carbon emissions than gas, particularly when that gas is refined from Alberta's tar sands, which emit five times the greenhouse gas emissions during extraction than old-fashioned oil drilling. And every gallon of imported oil we displace with domestic ethanol strengthens our national security.

How would the Fueling Freedom plan work? First, it would phase out the blender's tax credit, which right now doesn't even go to ethanol producers but goes to the fuel blenders (the oil companies) as an incentive to blend ethanol. The plan would redirect some portion of that tax credit to help pay for the installation of blender pumps and ethanol pipelines. We could also mandate that all vehicles sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel compatible.

That's the ethanol industry saying they can do without the government supports, in exchange for a level playing field.

If every car or pickup in the U.S. was flex-fuel, and nearly every fueling station had blender pumps, then we as Americans would have a genuine choice in the marketplace. We could choose gasoline, if the price were right. Or we could choose ethanol, because we want cleaner air, or want to keep our money here in America, or bring our soldiers back from the Middle East.

This is a great plan. It deserves our support. It exposes the myth that we Americans have a choice when we go to fill up. Every one of those gas stations may have a different sign hanging over their pumps, but they're all selling the same thing.

We deserve the right to choose between gasoline and renewable, homegrown ethanol.