The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is taxing the industrial world into a global depression and Big Oil is behind this year's vicious assaults on corn-based ethanol. The world's largest ethanol conference began with those blunt messages last week here in Music City, USA, where nearly 4,000 people gathered for the 24th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW), a BBI International event.
The dramatic opening session, featuring a provocative speech by Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil, is now available online at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/2008few
28 minutes into the video, Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, tells the audience that the oil industry has staged a massive propaganda campaign against ethanol. According to Dinneen, the oil industry saw one-third of its market share slipping away and concocted an enormous campaign against renewables. "They sit on editorial boards of every major newspaper," he says, adding that Big Oil "bought themselves some studies" and teamed up with major food companies to create a giant smokescreen. "They need to stop us now, but they won't," he says, adding that rising food prices are in part due to demand from developing countries like China and India and changing diets of people around the world. Of course, the price of oil is paramount to this debate, and Dinneen hit home this message by saying, "We can't produce $2.50 corn with $4.50 diesel."
Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes into the video Zubrin gives a compelling account of the OPEC's strategic will to control global oil output and prices. In 1972, the United States spent $4 billion on oil imports, or 4.5 percent of the U.S. defense budget. This year, the United States will spend $650 billion on imported oil. As Zubrin puts it, "$650 billion isn't just money, it's power."
Zubrin -- who sold more than 500 books after his speech -- tells the audience that OPEC has placed a "slow choke" on world oil supplies, and the only way to "change the trump suit" is by mandating all vehicles sold in the United States to be flex-fueled (E85 capable) giving consumers a fuel choice. A flexible-fuel vehicle mandate would end the chicken and egg dilemma that's hampered the development of E85 refueling infrastructure. "This would crash the oil price to $50 a barrel," he tells the crowd. "This is how you smash OPEC."
Watch the entire opening session of the FEW, free of charge, at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/2008few .