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July 4 and Energy Independence Are More Linked Than You Realize

July 1, 2016


Did you know that there were 56 signers to the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock was the first one to sign (and the origination of the term "John Hancock")? Ahead of the July 4 weekend in which the U.S. celebrates its independence from the British, the Renewable Fuels Association wanted to provide some fun facts about our nation's birthday, and how it relates to energy independence. Did you know?

  • Representatives of the original 13 colonies voted on July 2, 1776 to declare independence, but it wasn't until July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress approved the final wording. While most delegates didn't sign the Declaration of Independence until Aug. 2, of that year, both John Hancock and Charles Thompson did sign the document on July 4.
  • Of the 56 signers to the Declaration of Independence, nine of them were farmers.
  • Former Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, while America's 30th President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872.
  • The original copy of the Declaration of Independence is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
  • Fireworks were first used to celebrate Independence Day in 1777.
  • Congress declared July 4 as a national holiday in 1870.
  • An estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on July 4.
  • Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is held every July 4 on Coney Island. The current record, held by Joey Chestnut, is 69 hot dogs and buns eaten in 10 minutes.
But what does Independence Day have to do with ethanol and alternative fuels? A lot. While the reasons behind America seeking its independence were much different in 1776, the issue of energy independence is no less important today. Growth in ethanol production and use has already helped to decrease reliance on crude oil imports. In 2005, the year the original renewable fuel standard was adopted, America's net dependence on foreign petroleum peaked at just over 60%. However, by 2015, net petroleum import dependence fell to just 25%, and would have been 32% without the addition of 14.8 billion gallons of domestically produced ethanol to the fuel supply. The surge in ethanol production has reduced gasoline imports from nearly 10 billion gallons in 2005 to almost zero today. Looked at another way, the ethanol produced in 2015 displaced an amount of gasoline refined from 527 million barrels of crude oil. That's roughly equivalent to the volume of oil imported annually from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined. Meanwhile, the use of ethanol in gasoline last year reduced carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 41.2 million metric tons--equivalent to removing 8.7 million cars from the road for an entire year. While the Renewable Fuels Association and others have made progress in displacing petroleum with clean-burning, domestically produced ethanol, there's more to do. Our industry will focus on chipping away the 100-year-plus dominance of the oil industry until the playing field is even, and will continue to do so until the U.S. is truly energy independent.