Battle lines are being drawn - the war for retention of the nation's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is getting under way. An early salvo was lobbed in June by Fuels America, a coalition of organizations committed to protection of the Renewable Fuel Standard even as Big Oil plans ways to attack it.

Fuels America recently commissioned Research Now to conduct a survey to gauge consumer impacts of fluctuating gasoline prices. It was revealing: Of Americans surveyed, 80 percent believe more renewable fuels should be developed and sold in the U.S., and 73 percent support the RFS. And, 75 percent want more renewable fuel options at their local gas station.

Most have concerns about fluctuating gas prices. Fifty-five percent said that if gas prices go up, they would be likely to take fewer road trips to visit friends and family. This would not bode well for tourism in the Upper Midwest, a vital part of our rural economy. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed responded that they would eat out in restaurants far less - if gas prices go up, and 17 percent said they'd cut back on clothes shopping.

The new norm seems to be unpredictable gasoline prices as a result of oil industry manipulation. Fuels America said 59 percent of Americans blame that industry for high gas prices. An expanded RFS could help to stabilize pump prices while helping to sustain the rural economy in this country.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council, said, "Oil companies will do anything to keep competition from cutting into their profits. That's why they've launched an all-out assault on homegrown oil-alternatives like renewable fuel." Coleman said consumers are not being fooled by oil industry manipulations and squarely place blame for high prices with that industry. They simply want more options at the pump, especially among renewable fuels.

A big concern of consumers is the effects on the environment of the search for more oil and natural gas. Fuels America's survey notes that 90 percent of environmentalists believe the nation should be using more renewable fuels, and 89 percent believe replacement of fossil fuels with renewable would benefit the environment. Bottom line: 86 percent of environmentalists surveyed said they want more renewable fuels at their local gas station.

The RFS also has significant ramifications for national security. According to Fuels America, Vice Admiral Dennis v. McGinn, U.S. Navy retired, who is president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said, "From the economic damages of extreme weather fueled by climate change to the high costs of water and air pollution when petroleum is spilled or burned, we are paying the price every day for our reliance on oil."

Additionally, the Fuels America poll delved into actual national security issues, showing that 69 percent of Americans believe replacing oil imports with renewable fuel production is "critical" to national security. In fact, 84 percent of military households have a favorable opinion of renewable fuel, as do 80 percent of respondents nationwide.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

I'll see ya!