Core to Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities’ mission is an effort to reduce mid-Michigan’s petroleum consumption. Our aim is to advance energy, economic, and environmental security on a local level. We promote alternative fuel and vehicle usage, and fuel economy practices. It’s easy to forget that what we do individually, as communities, and regionally impacts the nation as a whole. Our own and our region’s dependence on petroleum has local implications as well as national security consequences.

This issue of Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities’ Clean Transportation Awareness Campaign will give you some food for thought on how cleaner fuels and vehicles, as well as non-motorized transportation options, can improve national security.

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Where does our gasoline and diesel fuel come from? The 4.7 billion barrels of petroleum imported in 2008 were supplied mainly by Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Iraq was sixth on the supplier list. Much of what we get from Canada is derived from tar sands or shale oil, which is energy intensive to extract and highly polluting.

How secure is our access to these sources? Canada’s government is stable, though our other major suppliers are at greater risk of political and social instability. This instability can lead to supply interruptions. Further, given that global oil reservoirs are becoming more and more scarce, availability of oil limits the security of our access to these sources.

What threats to supply exist for Michigan?
Issues impacting the security of our access to oil sources create threats to Michigan’s supply of petroleum. For instance, political and social instability resulting in the war in Iraq from 2003 to the present created supply interruptions from that nation. Venezuela’s government has been controversial in recent years, with a growing anti-U.S. tone, which may impact their willingness to provide oil to the U.S. Other risks to supply include increased demand from other nations whose economies are growing, like China and India to name just two, as well as limits on refinery capacity in Michigan. Michigan has only one refinery.

Ok, but how does this effect me? As a fleet manager, fuel supplier/retailer, or individual driver, there are many ways that these issues affect you directly. Supply of fuel has a direct impact on costs for all – fuel suppliers and retailers, vehicle fleets and individual drivers. The more expensive fuel is, the harder it is to get where your fleet or your family needs to go. In 2008, when fuel prices spiked, many trucking companies went out of business and many people couldn’t afford the fuel they needed to get to work. When fuel prices spike, people choose to or must reduce the amount of fuel they use, this can create unsold fuel for retailers and suppliers, putting those businesses in tough spots, too.

What obligations are National Guard and enlisted service members under as a result of petroleum dependence? Often, the U.S. military has been stationed in politically unstable regions, in part, to protect resources of interest to the U.S. – including oil. Protecting resources in other nations reduces the number of service members available to assist in national disasters or potential threats to the homeland. In active military zones soldiers are largely dependent on fuel availability to run jets, transport vehicles, tanks and other equipment. Finding alternatives to petroleum that are viable in the battlefield is crucial for troop safety.

The environment ties into national security? Surely, you can’t be serious? We’re totally serious, and don’t call us Shirley….Environmental issues, including water and soil quality, as well as climate change, are closely tied to national security. Water and soil contaminated by  fuels can lead to local public health disasters, requiring state and federal dollars and support to treat. Climate change, which is worsened by greehouse gas emissions (GHGs) much of which comes from petroleum fuel emissions, poses many threats to the environment. As weather becomes more extreme and temperature variability increases, resources may become more scarce. By reducing the use of petroleum fuels we are able to limit GHG emissions, reducing human involvement in climate change.

Why not drill for more domestic petroleum? Forecasts by the EIA show US potential supply of 12.5 million barrels per day by 2030. This amount of domestic production would barely cover our own use at today’s levels. Accounting for increased demand for fuel this supply would not meet transportation energy needs alone. Accessing offshore oil beneath the sea and shale oil is expensive, can be highly polluting, and avoids the issue of reducing dependence on this limited resource. Learn More

What are the alternatives? Many alternatives to petroleum for transportation exist or are under development including biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel), hydrogen, electric vehicles, and fuels like propane (liquefied for motor vehicle use) and compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. The most accessible alternative is often overlooked, but very easy for most of us to implement – non-motorized transportation options, like walking and biking. Learn More

Is mid-Michigan a part of the solution? Our region is fast becoming a part of the solution, and we can do more. MSU and LCC perform research to get alternatives to petroleum into the market, and train vehicle technicians to service advanced vehicles, like hybrid electric and natural gas vehicles. Area farmers have an opportunity to grow crops sustainably that can be used for biofuels, like switchgrass, soy, and corn. Advanced biofuels you may have heard of, like cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol, are being developed by mid-Michigan groups like Working Bugs, CATA, Tri County Regional Planning Commission, and other local groups are working to increase the availability of convenient mass transit options. And, folks like you are learning and applying ways to reduce personal petroleum use. Keep it up, mid-Michigan!

Success Stories

In 2008, across the country, the 87 local Clean Cities Coalitions displaced a total of approximately 412 million gallons of gasoline and diesel as a result of coalition activities. Because of this, the national Clean Cities program is on track to reach 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel displaced per year in 2020, exceeding the Clean Cities’ goal of 2.5 billion gallons per year by 23 million gallons. Learn More


Recommit to Your Resolution!

A new year has begun, survey your own practices and take note of your own petroleum use. Take steps to reduce it in 2010. Participate in GLACC’s Annual Petroleum Reduction Survey! Email for more info.

Prospect: How much petroleum do you expect to use day to day? Whether you drive for a living, manage a fleet or fuel/vehicle purchasing, or simply buzz around town, there are ways to cut back. For fuel usage – less is more.  Learn More

Study ways that make sense for you to cut back. It may be as small as planning different routes to save on fuel, or incorporating an entirely different systems into your business.  Eco-Driving Tips

It’s not too late to make a change for 2010! If you’ve slipped or stalled your 2010 petroleum reduction resolution get back to it! Set a goal to reduce your petroleum consumption, and stick to it. We can help!