UChicago receives gift to study economic, policy impacts of oil and alternative fuels

The University of Chicago on March 15 announced that the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago has received a $1.5 million gift from the Fuel Freedom Foundation to establish the Future of Transportation Fuels Initiative.

The initiative will support EPIC faculty and experts studying the economic and policy impact of oil and alternative transportation fuels. The gift also will fund PhD students and a visiting professorship, and extend outreach programs to the public. EPIC is a joint enterprise of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies.

“This generous gift will help EPIC conduct the data-driven research that policymakers and business leaders need to make sound, evidence-based energy policy decisions,” said Robert Topel, co-director of EPIC and the Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at Chicago Booth.

“EPIC is built on the conviction that meeting our future energy needs and enhancing energy security, while limiting adverse environmental and social impact, starts with the development of sound public policy. This gift will greatly aid our effort toward that end,” said Robert Rosner, co-director of EPIC and the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the Computation Institute.

“This is a critical time for our nation as we search for ways struggle to lower fuel costs and achieve energy independence,” said Yossie Hollander, co-founder of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization in Irvine, Calif. “The University of Chicago is renowned for its rigorous economic analysis, and we are privileged to be its partner on this vital project.”

“In addition to oil, we have an abundance of natural gas, ethanol and methanol,” said Joe Cannon, president of the Fuel Freedom Foundation. “We need to understand the impact all of these fuels can have in bringing down the price Americans pay at the pump.”

Founded in 2011, EPIC is an interdisciplinary research institute focused on the economic and social policy questions related to energy. The Institute’s mission is to provide data-driven research on energy, to train policy and business leaders in a science-based approach to energy issues, and to communicate research findings to decision-makers, the media and the public.

The core research team at EPIC is made up of 54 Chicago faculty members from economics, business, physical sciences, public policy and law. Faculty members are joined by computational scientists and engineering experts from Argonne National Laboratory. EPIC also works closely with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to communicate its research to decision-makers, the media and the public.

The Fuel Freedom Foundation supports the development of cheaper, cleaner, American-made fuels by reducing regulatory and infrastructure barriers to competition. By working to enhance U.S. energy independence and security, the Fuel Freedom Foundation aims to help lower fuel prices, create jobs, spur economic growth, lessen pollution and reduce geopolitical conflict.