Fuel for Thought

America Should Lead the Alternative Fuels Race

June 20, 2014

by Joe Thompson - Also by this author

Motorsports legend and chairman of ROUSH Enterprises, Jack Roush, once told me, "You can't lead from the middle of the pack."

In other words, know what you seek and have the guts to pull ahead to get it.

This inspires me in many ways, but especially when it comes to America's race for energy independence.

Running on American-made alternative fuels decreases dependence on foreign energy and boosts our nation's economy. To me, this sounds like a smart reason to become a frontrunner in the usage of alt fuels. And good decisions are what quality leadership is built upon.

According to the Department of Energy, in model year 2014, there are 160 light-duty vehicles running on alternative fuels. Many state and federal incentives offer tax credits and other grants. I also recommend you get to know your local Clean Cities, which runs 90 coalitions through the Energy Department. With the goal of reducing petroleum usage, Clean Cities is a unique resource covering the full scope of alternative fuels.

When you participate in the Clean Cities program, you'll find dozens of conferences and events that specialize in alt fuels or include green displays. Attend these conferences and events to hear from fleet managers who have implemented alt fuels — they're eager to share their knowledge and experiences. Check agendas for sessions, educational opportunities and ride-and-drives featuring alternative fuel vehicles.

As Americans, we consider ourselves to be at the forefront of innovation. Yet when it comes to alternative fuels, many countries are way ahead of us. Did you know that there are more than 23 million vehicles powered by propane autogas in the world today? But only about 150,000 of those operate in the United States. 

And yet our nation has an abundant supply of various alt fuels. For example, our nation has so much propane that we started exporting the energy source in 2011. Last year, the U.S. exported 4.7 billion gallons, up from 2.5 billion gallons in 2012. So far in 2014, the United States has exported an average of 356,000 barrels of propane each month.

Will someone explain to me why we export our own energy while importing foreign energy sources? A loaded question, to be sure!

Yet thinking outside of the "conventional fuels" box helps organizations save thousands and thousands of green American dollars at the pump.

With budget reductions happening across the country, alternative fuel choices can significantly help your bottom line.

Plus, the environmental benefits shouldn't go unnoticed. Alternative fuels reduce smog-producing emissions. And because they are cleaner burning, alternatively fueled vehicles often reduce routine maintenance costs. With less wear and tear on engines, the life of the vehicles may also be extended.

The decisions that company leaders make today become tomorrow's reality. Our choices must become part of the solution to air pollution and dependence on foreign oil — and leave the world a better place.

Whether it's for economic gain, environmental benefits or patriotic responsibility, I encourage you to leave the middle of the pack, and be that leader.

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Author Bio

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Joe Thompson

President, ROUSH CleanTech

Joe Thompson has served as president of ROUSH CleanTech since the company’s inception in 2010. Under Thompson’s leadership, the company has won numerous quality control and environmental awards.

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