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EPIC: Consumers say biofuels key to long-term energy solutions

Biofuels top the list as the most acceptable avenue to long-term energy security in the U.S. That's the conclusion of a national survey commissioned by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Respondents were asked what they would consider "acceptable" solutions to the current energy situation in the U.S. and 73 percent of them responded with the answer, domestically produced biofuels such as ethanol to replace oil.

Consumers are driving America's energy independence plan with additional solutions:

– 62 percent citing conservation

– 58 percent citing increased domestic drilling

– 55 percent mandate manufacturing of environmentally friendly vehicles

– 24 percent of respondents cited drilling in environmentally friendly areas as an option

– Only 7 percent responded that importing more foreign oil was an acceptable solution to our current problems.

"The goal of energy independence won't be easy. It's going to take hard work, innovation, investment, conservation, collaboration, and patience both from the biofuels industry and the public," Ethanol Promotion and Information Council's (EPIC) Executive Director Toni Nuernberg said. "It's also is going to require change to a more diversified energy portfolio of clean domestically produced alternative fuels and renewable energy."

EPIC's national poll also reveals consumer support for biofuels such as ethanol keeps growing. Nearly 62 percent of respondents have a favorable view of ethanol.

Flex fuel vehicles

In addition, support for flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) is also increasing. FFVs can run on pure gasoline or E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) or any mid-level blend such as E15, E20, E30 or E40. Earlier this year, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler committed that by 2012, half of their fleet will be flex-fuel vehicles. In May 2008, Sen. John Thune introduced the Flex-Fuel for All Americans Act of 2008, which would create a temporary consumer tax credit for the purchase of a (FFV). In June Sen. Sam Brownback supported policy to require 50 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2012 to be FFVs. Today, there are more than 7 million FFVs on the road, 1,800 E85 stations and 100 blender pumps.

"Our nation's addiction to imported oil has cost us dearly, in both financial and security terms. For decades, there has been outrage when energy prices skyrocket. When they plummet, the issue of renewable energy is put on the backburner," said Nuernberg. "Complacency is no longer an option. Consumers are engaged in the energy debate and they need to stay in the debate."

Also encouraging is consumer willingness to purchase a hybrid FFV. When asked about a competitively priced hybrid flex-fuel vehicle, 64 percent of respondents indicated they would consider purchasing one, indicating an even higher acceptance than a FFV without the hybrid feature (47 percent indicated they would consider a FFV). The largest reason cited for the purchase of a hybrid FFV was the environmental benefits of ethanol.

"In 2007, Ford tested their Escape Hybrid FFV, but did not bring it to market because they didn't feel there was a market due to consumers' lack of interest. Our research shows this is not the case," said Nuernberg. "Consumers are ready for this technology. The automotive industry needs to commit to further development of hybrid FFVs."

Survey methodology:

Online survey of a total 1,023 completed surveys from Luth Research's SurveySavvy online research panel. Survey fielding dates were Oct. 7, 2008, through October 15, 2008.

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) is an alliance of ethanol producers and industry leaders who have come together to spread the word about the benefits of ethanol through information and promotional programs. EPIC is a nonprofit organization and is overseen by an 11-member board of directors.

TAGS: Management
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