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Energy independence starts at pump

Joshua Morby

With the recent Fourth of July holiday, in appreciation of American Independence, it’s important to take a moment to consider the role ethanol plays in our state and our nation’s quest for energy independence.

A mix of energy sources will certainly be necessary to continue fueling our nation’s success and ethanol is a key part of that journey, especially in Wisconsin.

Our country has a dangerous addiction to petroleum. Last year, we burned about 135 billion gallons of gasoline, releasing harmful pollution and sending hundreds of millions of dollars to other countries.

Our energy independence is more crucial now than ever, and we’re well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Wisconsin ranks in the top 10 in the nation for ethanol production, with nine plants and overall capacity at close to 540 million gallons. On average, each of these plants contribute more than $200 million to the local economy and directly employ about 40 people.

In the last five years, Wisconsin ethanol producers made, and consumers in the state consumed, more than two billion gallons of ethanol. This locally made, cleaner burning fuel displaced the need to import more than by 10 million barrels foreign oil in the same period.

Ethanol has proven to be reliable and safe. Over the past decade, ethanol has become a major component of nearly every gallon of gas sold in America, but the big oil companies have said enough is enough and are working to limit higher-level blends of ethanol as a choice for consumers.

While nearly every car on the road today is designed to run on gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol most of our cars — 80 percent — could safely consume higher level blends of ethanol saving drivers money and increasing engine efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75 to 80 percent of the cars on America’s roads could be using E15, a blend that’s 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline.

While I’m making no claims that ethanol is the silver bullet, it does play a key role in our energy independence. It is clean, domestically produced, reduces greenhouse gasses that cause climate change and helps strengthen Wisconsin communities both in rural areas and in our cities.

It will require an uphill climb to bring energy independence to America, but it is not an impossible task.

We can make it easier for consumers to have access to new biofuels like E15. People want choices at the pump. They want cheaper gas that’s safe for their cars and won’t pollute the air.

So with Independence Day in mind, take a second to consider America’s energy independence and help us bring E15 to a wider market. Together we can create meaningful change and leave our children a better economy, stronger communities and healthier air.

Expanding the number of locations in Wisconsin that offer E15 as a choice for consumers will create hundreds of millions of dollars in rural economic growth, and in just five years, could take an additional 15 million barrels of foreign oil off our roads by displacing 300 million gallons of gasoline in our state alone.

Tell your local retailer to put in an E15 pump and visit us online at to learn more.

Joshua Morby is executive director of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance.