Cliff May

The prospect of many Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) coming onto the market would provide an enormous incentive to entrepreneurs to compete for consumers’ dollars by producing alternative fuels more abundantly and more rapidly. (Leveling the playing field among fuel-makers also should be on Congress’ to-do list.)

If incentives for automobile manufacturers are required to open up the fuel market to competitive forces, provide them. Consumers, too, should be encouraged to trade in their old (high-polluting) mono-fuel vehicles for FFVs.

Gingrich has pointed out that the government – not least the military – drinks oceans of oil. Creating a free and competitive fuel market could bring the price of that oil back down to $90, $70 or even $50 a barrel. That would translate into enormous savings – enough to pay for the incentives.

Longer term: Accelerate the production of both plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars. In America today, we’ve just about stopped burning oil to generate electricity. In America tomorrow, we should be using nuclear, coal, wind and solar power to make more electricity and give Americans additional transportation choices.

Plug-in hybrids have flexible fuel engines that power the car when it would be inconvenient to re-charge the battery by plugging into a wall socket. Pure electric cars may have small engines that simply re-charge the battery when you can’t plug in.

There is more that can be done, but by starting with the policies outlined above, foreign oil can be stripped of its strategic status. Terrorists targeting oil facilities in Saudi Arabia would no longer be a major concern. Iranian mullahs couldn’t threaten to cut off oil exports to teach Americans a lesson – as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did again just this week. The price of fuels will be determined – and disciplined -- by market forces in a competitive environment.

Less money will end up in the hands of terrorists. And the mobility we Americans prize will not be sacrificed. If the politicians you’re keeping in Washington have a better way to insure our future, by all means let’s hear about it.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.