The president of Gulf Oil Company spoke to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association summit Monday and said biofuels have a bright future — but gave what he admitted was an unorthodox view of their place in the nation’s energy supply. Joe Petrowski says he doesn’t believe developing biofuels should be about job creation.
Petrowski says creating jobs should not be the focus of energy policy, he says if the policy was simply about jobs, he would say we should get a bunch of fly wheels going and we could all run and create magneto electricity. Petrowski joked that he would benefit the most as he needs the exercise, but says, “It’s not about jobs, it’s about national security and it’s about price. I run a 10-billion-dollar company and the numbers matter.”
Petrowski says the government should not be saying what types of materials are used for making fuel, the market should decide. He says if we can truly develop cellulosic fuel at less than the six to seven cents a pound that corn costs, then there won’t need to be a mandate to produce it. Petrowski says if it can’t be produced at that price, then it should not be produced. He says the ethanol industry should not be shy about subsidies as he says they get very few subsidies compared to oil companies.
Petrowksi says it is important to U.S. security to increase the diversity of its fuels, because 96% of our transportation fuel is petroleum-based. Petrowski says we don’t have to replace the 143-billion gallons of gasoline we use in the U.S. with biofuels. He says if we could replace the gas with biofuels, fine, but he says replacing two or three million gallons of gas a day taken off the market would break the price of oil and put us on a more level playing field.
Petrowski says he’s not even sure that oil is a non-renewable resource, as new methods for recovering oil could open new supplies. He says the price of that supply is again the issue. Petrowski says ethanol has a rightful place in diversifying the fuel supply. Petrowksi says the stand that has to be made on ethanol is that it is a great fuel, that’s domestically produced and can compete with any fuel in the world, and provides diversity in the fuel supply.
Petrowski says the government should not be dictating the types of materials used to make the fuels, but he says they do have a role in regulation. He says for example, regulations need to be changed so pumps can be used to pump gas with higher mixes of ethanol without voiding their warranties.