With gas summer prices again threatening up to $4 a gallon across the U.S., everyone is looking at alternative fuels. Research into methanol, ethanol, and biodiesel is on the rise.

The Methanol Institute today, for example, announced that it's backing of the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 (H.R. 1687) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Methanol is just one of the several alternative fuels that are being researched as affordable alternatives to fossil fuel.

"The Open Fuel Standard Act is all about choice," Methanol Institute Executive Director Gregory Dolan said in a statement. "By ensuring that new cars can operate on something other than gasoline, Americans can reap the benefits of multiple alternative fuels. Methanol in particular is poised to play significant role in reducing our dependence on gasoline, as the most affordable, easily deployed, sustainable fuel available that would retail at the pump today for just $3.19 per gasoline equivalent gallon."

Methanol, otherwise known as "wood alcohol," is produced from natural gas, agricultural waste, landfill gas, timber waste, and waste CO2. But as a clean-burning alternative, methanol would provide cost-savings to drivers while reducing harmful emissions from automobiles.

According to the Methanol Institute, methanol has a better fire safety rating than other fuels, it does not ignite as easily as gasoline, it burns with one-eight the heat of gasoline, and is less likely to cause deadly fires.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that with methanol's low volatility and inherent fire safety advantages, the fuel could save hundreds of lives each year, and millions of dollars in property losses.

"The Methanol Institute is proud to support this bipartisan legislation," Dolan said. "At a time of fragile economic recovery, this practical energy solution will provide considerable savings for consumers without the need for our federal government to put forth any investment."

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