If any further reinforcement were needed to secure the swift adoption of the Open Fuel Standard, it can be found in two other events that recently underscored why it is not simply desirable, but an absolute necessity, that we diversify the fuel supply for the sector of our economy most dependent on oil:
1. The official Saudi press agency reported at the end of March that the kingdom had taken into custody 113 al Qaeda terrorists. They were said to have made up two distinct suicide bomber cells that were "in the initial stages of preparing an attack on oil and security facilities in the Eastern Province," the heart of Saudi Arabia's petroleum industry. This is not the first such attempted attack and will almost certainly not be the last.
2. In late April, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps undertook three days of exercises in the Strait of Hormuz. According to the Jamestown Foundation, "the exercises featured dozens of speedboats attacking target ships with rockets and newly built torpedoes." These sorts of drills are clearly intended to lend credence to Tehran's threats to cut off the flow of oil through and out of the Persian Gulf.
In the event either of these menaces eventuates, a serious disruption in the flow of oil to the United States and other Western consumers would be unavoidable. Especially if combined with pressure to cut back on the exploitation of America's off-shore energy resources, the effect could be sharply increased prices for gas and possibly sustained shortages of supply.
Under those circumstances, would we hesitate to make the fullest possible use of available technologies, particularly highly cost-effective ones, to tap our nation's vast potential for alcohol-based fuels and, thereby, to enable "fuel choice" to the consumer? Not bloody likely.
Such a step would have the added benefit of breaking the back of the monopoly currently enjoyed by the oil cartel, OPEC, many of whose members wish us ill. Continuing to transfer our national wealth to such nations is insanely reckless. By adopting the Open Fuel Standard here, moreover, it is likely that cars that meet it will be sold internationally, as well. As a result, as many as 120 countries around the world would be able to manufacture their own fuels, further eviscerating OPEC's stranglehold on energy supplies.
Perhaps even in such extremity a few holdouts would still cavil against the government imposing a "mandate" in the form of an Open Fuel Standard - despite it being one that would create competition where none exists today. As Robert Zubrin, author of the brilliant blueprint called Energy Victory, has noted, the mandate for digital televisions was adopted without such histrionics. It is vastly more important that we provide for our energy security than for the quality of our television signals. And, as the BP blowout makes absolutely clear, it is past time that we do so.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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