Set against the backdrop of the shale gas revolution in the United States, which promises a long, uninterrupted period of low natural gas prices, domestic methanol production is making a resurgence. The use of this low-cost natural gas to produce methanol as a vehicle fuel can provide great benefits to U.S. consumers. There are a number of policy steps the United States government can take to help consumers realize these benefits.
In Congress, the Open Fuel Standard Act was introduced to direct automakers to have half of all new cars by the 2017 model year capable of operating on something other than gasoline, including ethanol and methanol flexible fuel vehicles. Congressmen and Senators on both sides of the political aisle are also questing whether the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) goals of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels in the pool by 2022 is anything close to an achievable goal. As policy leaders question the RFS, now is the time for them to consider a Domestic Fuel Standard that opens the market to low-level methanol fuel blends made from domestic natural gas.