The Road Ahead

Clean Energy is working to change the way North America fuels its vehicles.

PUMP, The Movie: What’s the Solution to America’s Gasoline Dictatorship?

By Clean Energy Compression

The land of free and open competition has a long history of being dictated to by monopolistic oil companies. PUMP the movie explains that history and exposes solutions that are all around us.

This documentary-style movie is a discussion about America’s lack of fuel options, now and through the decades. The manufactured dominance of gasoline and diesel have been adopted as America’s only perceived  choice while cleaner, more abundant and less costly alternative fuels have been sidelined. The movie mindfully covers a dazzling spectrum of facts, insights, and brings the truth about why we are gasoline addicts and why plentiful alternatives are facing opposition from oil companies.

The first 20 minutes of PUMP, intentionally or non-intentionally, reinforces many of the points raised in T. Boone Pickens’ “Pickens Plan” which is a 5-point plan as follows:

1. Clear responsibility and accountability for energy decisions.

– Establish one central federal department to oversee all Energy concerns across the nation.

2. Inject real fuel competition into the transportation mix.

– A key subject in PUMP, the movie. Without the introduction of additional fuels, gasoline prices will remain inflated.

3. Meet our own energy needs before we worry about other countries.

– The U.S. cannot meet its own demand for fuel, yet it exports about 4 million barrels per day. The U.S. is lacking a comprehensive Energy Plan.

4. Pursue a North American Energy Alliance.

– The U.S. is an important market for Canadian and Mexican oil and energy exports. The U.S. also ships to Mexico and is shipping about 2 billion cubic feet of Natural Gas south while it imports Natural Gas from Canada. If the three countries work together, the U.S. will no longer need OPEC.

5. Remember: Energy is not a free market.

– The world produces 92 million barrels of oil a day. Only 30 barrels are produced by the OPEC cartel members, yet they control the price of oil.

From electric, methanol, ethanol and CNG powered vehicles to flex-fuel vehicles, America has been swayed into using gasoline as though it were the only viable solution. For the past century it has created a monopolistic situation that has left America with a lack of competition. The situation has not been an advantage to the American public, their pocket book and the air they breathe, but rather an extraordinary benefit to the handful of oil companies and the gasoline-powered vehicle industry who’ve orchestrated it.

Examples discussed in the movie include:

  • Termination of Electric Powered Public Transportation though the acquisition of all electric powered public transportation between 1938 and 1950 by oil companies who acquired and destroyed existing electric trams that operated across the nation to replace them with emission spewing diesel powered buses requiring paved infrastructure in replacement of simple rail beds. By the end of the 1950s, the rapid disappearance of the tram was underway in most Western and Asian countries. The demise of the streetcar came when lines were torn out of the major cities by bus manufacturing or oil marketing companies for the specific purpose of replacing rail service with buses. This led to the “Great American Streetcar Scandal” and the convictions of General Motors (GM), Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks for monopolizing the sale of buses and supplies to National City Lines and its subsidiaries and to allegations that this was part of a deliberate plot to purchase and dismantle streetcar systems in many cities in the U.S. as an attempt to monopolize surface transportation.


  • Fabrication of the “Ethanol Depletes Our Food Supply” myth which saw mass media spread misinformation that the crops used to create Ethanol were using up our food supply and applying upward pressure on food prices. In fact, Ethanol is mostly made from the by-product of crops after food processing as in the case of corn where the corn niblets are removed and ethanol is then produced from the remaining husks and cobs. Brazil, a county about the size of the U.S. and the 5th most populous country in the world, has become 100% fuel independent largely through the production of Ethanol from their abundant sugar cane crops. Over half the vehicles in Brazil run on Ethanol. They produce sufficient Ethanol to place as the world’s second largest producer of ethanol fuel, and until 2010, the world’s largest exporter of the fuel. Together, Brazil and the United States lead the industrial production of ethanol fuel, accounting together for 87.8 percent of the world’s production. Brazil produced 21.1 billion liters (5.57 billion U.S. liquid gallons), representing 24.9 percent of the world’s total ethanol used as fuel. Brazil is considered to have the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy and as the biofuel industry leader, and its sugarcane ethanol is “the most successful alternative fuel to date”.


  • The secret “Flex Fuel” legislation. Did you know the use of ethanol is required by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. If not, you’re not alone. Automakers complied with federal legislators wishes to enable the use of Ethanol and Gasoline-Ethanol blends and are now building Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFV). BUT they didn’t tell anyone. There are more than 17.4 million FFVs on U.S. roads today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program quoting reports from POLK. The kicker, as PUMP explains, is that most of the FFV owners, don’t realize their cars are able to use alternative liquid fuels NOW! What’s more, the main hindrance to many production vehicles running liquid / alcohol alternative fuels is NOT their engine, it’s an often simple software configuration that can easily be disabled (as simple as browsing to access a folder and selecting a menu item on your home computer). Even older cars can run as high as E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, the highest Ethanol blend available.


  • Franchised fueling station owners are usually restricted from offering alternatives. Fueling with Natural Gas, CNG and LNG is much more cost effective. Two examples in PUMP are $100 vs $20 a day and $140 vs $16 per fill up when comparing gasoline to natural gas. “That’s Huge” and “It’s American” a conversion expert says in the film. But even if a franchised station owner wanted to offer alternative fuels, they are restricted under their franchise agreement from doing so. And understandably so, after all, the franchiser is an oil company and the station serves as its direct-to-consumer distribution channel.

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, requires feedstock in its production. Various feedstocks can be used but natural gas is currently the most economical feedstock. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Methanol use in vehicles has declined dramatically since the early 1990s.

Fuel Pump Types

Other countries around the world have diversified their fuel availability. In for india for instance, taxi operators available via “taxi hailing” apps such as Uber and the Indian app “Ola” are compelled by legislation to use Natural Gas exclusively, primarily as an air pollution reduction measure. In Colombia about 500,000 vehicles are running on Natural Gas and in Italy a whopping 880,000 vehicles powered by natural gas, the highest number of NGVs in any EU country. Argentina, with a population of just over 40 million boasts over 2 million NGVs. In Argentina about 15,000 vehicles per month are converted to natural gas.

Fleets account for the greatest adoption of Natural Gas Vehicles in the U.S. Some of the largest fleets in the U.S. have switched large parts of their fleets to LNG powered transport trucks, CNG waste hauling trucks, CNG transit buses and light truck fleets operating on CNG. These fleet operators are now enjoying to cost savings, low emissions and other advantages Natural Gas vehicles offer.

From a financial perspective, the current cost of converting an existing gasoline or diesel vehicle to natural gas is more attractive for high use vehicles, commercial fleets, transport fleets, transit buses, refuse fleets and light truck fleets than it would be for everyday consumer vehicles. The former would realize a much shorter payback period on their investment. Conversion companies are easily accessible across the country. The costs of conversion kits is expected to reduce in coming years. In either case there are currently a number of natural gas powered consumer vehicles, mostly lite duty trucks, on the market to choose from including the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, GMC Sierra, GM Cargo Vans and the Ford F150, F250 and F350 trucks. In Europe there are over 20 cars available from subcompact to full-sized.

To calculate the cost of NOT owning a Natural Gas Vehicle compared to owning a Gasoline powered vehicle, see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Cost Calculator and to search for and view available engines from vehicle manufactures and OEMs by fuel type use the Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Search tool.

The dependance of America on foreign oil producers not only offshores thousands of jobs and trillions in protecting middle-east interests, it props up regimes that may not be in America’s best interests.

To quote the movie on the topic of Natural Gas “I don’t care if I have to pay $2.50 a gallon for it, if we can get our army guys (back) from fighting for oil, back over here, it’d be well worth it. It’s cleaner, it’s better, it’s abundant, it’s right here in America, it’s American”.

At the end of 2014 there were about 150,000 natural gas powered vehicles in the United States. That’s a ratio of less than 1% of the roughly 15.2 million natural gas vehicles in operation worldwide, while the U.S. Population is over 4% of the world’s and it has a higher proportion of cars per capita than most countries. The U.S. does not yet rank in the top 10 natural gas (or alternative fuel) using countries on the world, likely resulting from lack of competition and the other factors highlighted in PUMP and above.

There is the bright spot for America in all this.

Spurred by higher rewards of taking advantage of alternative fuels, vehicle fleet operators are already saving millions by using Natural Gas, CNG and LNG powered vehicles across the U.S. Companies such as Clean Energy Fuels have built and continue to expand Natural Gas fueling infrastructure across the continent and around the globe. There are already over 800 Natural Gas stations across the U.S. The Clean Energy Fuels network of stations alone allows transport companies to run CNG and LNG along the major transportations corridors across the U.S. and stretching from the Trans-Canada Highway through the U.S. and into Mexico as shown on the Clean Energy Station Locator Map.

Together with other fuels there are currently 17,752 alternative fuel stations in the U.S. offering fuel options including CNG, Electric, Ethanol, Hydrogen, LNG Propane, and Biodiesel.

Not only is natural gas more economical on a well-to-wheels basis, it’s cleaner for the environment, results in quieter vehicles. It’s currently a domestically abundant resource that can reduce the U.S.’s reliance on foreign oil imports and bridge the country’s transformation to renewable fuel options such as Solar, Wind and Nuclear power.

American consumers demand choice and competitive pricing in almost all the products and consumables they purchase. Why not vehicle fuel?

The ideal gas station of the future should be as depicted in PUMP, offering American’s a choice of fuels and a level playing field for producers to compete and offer consumers a choice, be it Biodiesel, Electricity, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Natural Gas (CNG, LNG), Propane or even Gasoline.

Trailer: PUMP, the Movie

Reviews: PUMP, the Movie

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