Fill ’er Up, but Hold the Gas

Source: By BEN KENIGSBERG, New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A gas station that sells alternative fuels is seen in the documentary “Pump.”CreditSubmarine Deluxe Release
Produced in conjunction with the nonprofit Fuel Freedom Foundation“Pump” is less a movie than a webpage in motion. But the arguments have an appealing logic for those concerned about the environment. The film explores America’s dependence on oil, from John D. Rockefeller to the dismantling of the nation’s streetcars, and traces oil’s effects on the broader economy.

Electric cars offer a distant solution, but“Pump” suggests that biofuels can provide an interim fix. The movie showcases an apparent success story with ethanol sales in Brazil; it turns hands-on with instructions on how to hack your car to make it run on different types of fuel. The owners of an independent gas station promote the benefits of providing consumers with a choice.

But the movie goes beyond alarmism with solutions that on the surface would seem to find common ground between environmental advocacy and unfettered capitalism. (One interviewee, an adviser to Fuel Freedom, isJohn Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil.) The presentation, at least, is smooth.