· Forty-five percent of Americans believe that we are on the right track in finding domestic energy sources while 43 percent believe we’re on the wrong one.
· Ninety-three percent believe that finding domestic energy sources is important or very important.
· Seventy-eight percent of Americans want political leaders to work on an energy policy promoting domestic energy sources.
Why do we care? Of the 93 percent who considered domestic energy important, the top three reasons cited were less dependence on foreign oil and energy security (85 percent), job creation and economic security (84 percent), and lower prices at the pump (72 percent). It’s clear we’ve come far in realizing that domestic energy is critical to securing a peaceful and prosperous future as a nation.
But domestic energy is not the only gauntlet the American people have thrown down. The survey also found Americans united in their desire to see our leaders support clean energy. Nearly three-fourths of respondents identify support of new environmentally friendly energy technology/products and infrastructure as topics they would like to see political leadership address in the coming year. So what’s holding us back? Money. At least, that’s the perception. When asked why they think Americans have not fully embraced environmentally friendly fuels, 67 percent cited cost.
I know there’s a way to give Americans the clean, domestic energy they want and have it be affordable, too. To succeed, we need our leaders to pave the way for the right fuels for the right applications, rather than forcing any one fuel to play the impossible role of a silver bullet. One piece of that mix should be propane. It’s an abundant energy source that is affordable and burns exponentially cleaner than gasoline or diesel. And it’s domestic—we have so much propane that other countries are coming to us to meet their energy needs.
What about cost? Propane consistently costs significantly less than gasoline and diesel, and the infrastructure costs are incredibly affordable.
As a result, propane stands out as offering the triple bottom line of sustainability: people, planet and profit. This makes propane a strong contender to displace gasoline and diesel in applications like trucks, vans, buses, mowers, irrigation engines and construction equipment.
As elected officials consider propane, as well as all the other alternative fuels on the market, it’s critical that they remember that Americans’ desire for domestic energy is rooted in economics. Over the past few years, we’ve experienced a tough economy. The why’s and how’s have all been said before, so I won’t repeat them, but I will say I firmly agree with those who believe domestic energy sources can offer more for us in terms of jobs and the economy. Tapping our own domestic resources will broaden a sector operating only on a fraction of its potential, an endeavor that will put many Americans back to work. Americans understand this, and they see energy not as feel-good issue, but as a jobs issue.
Regardless of who is elected president on November 6, Americans expect big strides in making clean, affordable, domestic energy a priority. As we evaluate potential paths forward, let the particular needs of the situation determine the best fuel to deliver on those core energy values and strengthen our security, economy and health in the process.
For more information about PERC, or to see the 2012 Energy Habits, Awareness & Perceptions survey, visit www.propanecouncil.org.
Roy Willis is the president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). Since 1998, he has led implementation on a multidisciplinary program of research and development, education, safety, and training. Also the former chairman of the National Energy Resources Organization, Willis is the founding chairman of the Global Technology Network of the World LP Gas Association.