FALL 2009 ISSUE


Regular Unleaded: Made in Saudi Arabia



That’s a harsh reality drivers could see plastered across gas pumps if a new program from Growth Energy gains support in Washington, D.C. Growth Energy is now championing a country of origin labeling, or COOL, requirement for all fuel sold in the United States. It aims to show the negative consequences of imported oil as well as the positive effects of “Ethanol: Made in the USA.”




“We know where our fruit, our fish and even our t-shirts come from because we have labeling laws,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “People have choices on the shelves of their department stores and supermarkets, and sometimes people make the choice of where to spend their money based on the country of origin. We believe consumers should have the same choice for fuel as they do for food and clothing.”


Growth Energy unveiled the idea on Aug. 10 in Las Vegas at the National Clean Energy Summit as a part of the group’s new Biofuels Road Map. A press conference was held and the campaign was announced to the public on Sept. 1 in Decatur, Ill. at the Farm Progress Show.


Low gas prices often mislead consumers into thinking that oil is the most economical option for the United States, Growth Energy Communications Director Chris Thorne said. He hopes that by clearly outlining the sources of our fuel, drivers will choose to “put more America into their tanks.”


“The truth is, there are many hidden costs of foreign oil,” Thorne said. “Today’s oil industry is one of the heaviest-subsidized industries in our history, despite record profits. Besides the direct subsidies, U.S. taxpayers pay an estimated $50 billion a year and commit U.S. forces to protect oil-shipping lanes.”


That’s a serious hit to the U.S., he said, and one that will resonate with citizens if they are confronted with the truth.


“It all adds up to an enormous transfer of wealth from the United States to other nations, some of which are volatile and even hostile,” Thorne said. “Foreign oil costs us both lives and treasure.”


Details about how the new program would work are still being developed, but Thorne said it shouldn’t be a problem, considering that other global industries, including clothing manufacturers and fruit companies, label their imported goods.


The COOL initiative is one the public will get behind, Buis said. The fact that ethanol is made in the U.S. aligns it well with many of the nation’s most important goals right now.


“We believe there will be broad support in the public for country of origin labeling on fuel, simply because it makes sense to support a U.S. industry that creates green jobs, helps the environment and makes our nation more energy independent,” Buis said.


You need to get information to drivers in order to allow them to make an informed decision. Labeling fuel sources puts that information right in front of people every time they fill up their tanks.


The next step for Growth Energy is to reach out to key members of Congress and the Administration. Securing support for COOL from top decision-makers is an early goal in the process, Thorne said.


Growth Energy will reach out to members and supporters to enlist their help in convincing members of Congress that country of origin labeling for fuel should be passed. Grassroots support for the initiative is crucial to getting the message across in Washington, Thorne said.


Thorne expects to receive that support from both Congress and the Administration. He cited President Obama’s past vocal support for the American ethanol industry.


Buis sees a huge opportunity in COOL to educate the public about where they get their energy. And with the facts right in front of their faces, many drivers will recognize the benefit of choosing ethanol over imported fuel, he said.


“I believe that most American consumers want to make a choice that helps protect America’s national and economic security while cleaning the skies for our kids,” Buis said. “Labeling the country of origin for fuel means we have a better informed consumer, and that’s only a good thing.”


To get involved in the effort, sign up to help at GrowthEnergy.org. While you are there, check out the new Biofuels Road Map under the “Reports and Policy Briefs” section of the Web site.


GROWTH FORCE


At the same time as Growth Energy pushes forward with this effort to reach every gasoline consumer in America, it is reaching out to its supporters to expand its grassroots numbers.


A new effort titled “Growth ForceTM” seeks to tap into the vast resources of ethanol supporters nationwide to turn up the volume of their voice in Washington.


Buis said Growth Force members will be closely linked to Growth Energy’s top priorities, and members will pool their resources to strengthen the argument for greater use of ethanol in our nation’s vehicles.


“People who join Growth Force will be given the opportunity to make their voices heard in a variety of ways, from writing letters to the editor to appearing at rallies or public events,” he said. “Growth Force members will get information directly from Growth Energy’s leadership, briefing them on activities in Washington, D.C., and around the country, and inviting them to get involved in both long-term projects as well as take more immediate steps.”


Growth Force members will be asked to contribute their time and energy to help push back against the multimillion dollar blitzes coordinated by Big Food and the oil companies against ethanol, Thorne said.


It is open to anyone who supports creating green jobs, breathing cleaner air, and securing America’s economic and national security, he said.


“Growth Force includes everyone, from the suburban soccer mom in a minivan whose priority is a greener planet for her kids, to the Iowa farmer who has a mountain of corn,” he said.


Growth Energy is taking several steps to reach out and invite people to join Growth Force and will rely on strategies ranging from “shoe-leather tactics” to advanced digital tools, Thorne said. Growth Energy will use grassroots organizing techniques such as staffing farm shows and county fairs to sign up members.


The group will also use Internet tools such as Web sites, social networking, emails and more to reach potential members, organize existing members, gather input and alert people to new information and efforts from Growth Energy. People can join today at GrowthForce.org.


“People should look for the Growth Energy logo and signs, whether it is in their email inbox or at the major farm shows,” Buis said.





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