With gas prices averaging $3.00 per gallon and greenhouse emissions passing the most extreme predictions, the United States needs a drastic shift in energy policies in order to aid consumers, combat global warming, and reduce reliance on oil. As The New York Times reports today on a National Petroleum Council Report, "energy consumption globally is expected to rise by more than 50 percent over the next 25 years. But finding supplies to match that growth is going to be increasingly tough." Congress is engaged in debate to tackle these issues, working towards increasing fuel economy and the use of alternative energy.

In light of the debate in Congress (specifically the House debate next week), The Center for American Progress Action Fund last week kicked off its new Clean My Ride Campaign trying to make people aware of the need to increase mileage standards and increase the availability of ethanol (E-85) for flexible fuel vehicles.

The campaign urges viewers to ask Congress to require cars and light trucks get 35 miles per gallon by 2020, and to require that more service stations sell E-85 for flexible fuel cars. It enlists the help of such celebrities as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Biggs, Jennifer Garner, Tobin Bell (scary guy in the SAW movies), Sarah Silverman and Joshua Jackson in video episodes documenting the lengths to which one man - Phin, the face of the campaign - will go to get the word out. Episodes 1 & 2 were out last week, and one new episode per day will appear this week here.

The campaign is not blind to the criticisms of flex fuel vehicles and biofules in general.

Farm-based renewable energy, particularly sustainably produced biofuels, also offers a way forward. Corn-based ethanol can play an important role as a transitional fuel to to replace some oil while we develop biofuels made from better sources -- such as switch grass, wood chips, and agricultural waste. The 2005 energy law requires the production of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol, which will come from corn. A form of this fuel, E-85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) can power flexible fuel vehicles, which reduces oil use and global warming pollution. The Wall Street Journal reports the oil companies aren't making E -85 very available . For instance, Chevron and Cononcp prevent their service station franchieses from advertising E-85 on the same signs as ordinary gas. Because E-85 is not very available, Less than 1% of the 4.4 million flex fuel vehicles use it. We want congress to mandate that big oil make E -85 available.
Biofuels are not a silver bullet solution to all of our diverse energy needs. We still have a long way to go to make the transition to advanced sustainable biofuels and to increase dedicated energy crop yields and reduce costs.