Ethanol policy is a perfect example of how dysfunctional Washington is. The ethanol mandate takes 40% of the corn harvest out of food production. Food prices thus rise. Ethanol costs more money. It uses more energy. It ruins small engines. It produces lower gas mileage. However, little is done to change ethanol policy as a confluence of Iowan presidential politics, Big Ag, and other forces work together to keep this insanity in place.
The Obama administration bought into the craziness as it sought to increase the level of ethanol in gasoline sold at the pump from 10% to 15%. No surprise as the Commissar ranks at USDA are flooded with ethanol pimps. 15% ethanol gasoline is the perfect Washington solution as it would hurt those its trying to help since most cars on the road can not handle it and it is worse for the environment. You can keep your insurance. Oops. "Would" is used because the EPA actually stood down from implementing the 15% rule. The AP reported on November 15:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Friday proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply for the first time, acknowledging that the biofuel law championed by both parties in 2007 is not working as well as expected.... Rest of article
Naturally the ethanol lobby threatened to sue if the proposed rule becomes law but then the ethanol industry is in a rather crabby mood these days. Such is to be expected when fat cats living off the government see the spigots start to close. The AP published the results of an investigation on the effect of ethanol policy on the environment:
But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today....
The government's predictions of the benefits have proven so inaccurate that independent scientists question whether it will ever achieve its central environmental goal: reducing greenhouse gases. That makes the hidden costs even more significant.
"This is an ecological disaster," said Craig Cox with the Environmental Working Group, a natural ally of the president that, like others, now finds itself at odds with the White House....Article
The Clarion-Ledger reported last year the 15% mandate is bad for Mississippi as it is a rural state:
Ethanol can eat away at the seals in engines and fuel systems that are not designed for its use. When it approved the E15 for regular cars, the EPA said vehicles sold in the 2007 model year and later are more able to withstand ethanol since they're built to stricter standards. Other officials said the critical year is 2001.Think our congressmen and senators who love to brag what strong supporters of the free market they are did anything about the proposed 15%? Nope. Not only did they not fight, one of them tried to help the EPA implement the 15% rule. Yup. Senator Thad Cochran co-sponsored a bill (see below) to do just that. Here is a quote from his press release:
Either way, gas station owners are concerned about being held liable if something goes wrong.
"We certainly want to take care of our customers, and that becomes the issue because if someone pulls up and fuels up a vehicle built before 2001, it could damage it, and we could be held responsible," said Philip Chamblee, director of the Mississippi Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association....
people who work with small engines say ethanol can do some real damage to systems not built to contend with the problems it can cause.
Phillip Tait, who owns Advanced Tree Care of Brandon, filled up 12 of his chainsaws with ethanol gasoline.
"I lost $5,200 in one week when all my saws blew up. So I got new saws, blew them up, then I found out that ethanol gas was the problem. Now who refunds the small guy?" he said....
Sontag's Krysten Butler said she and her husband have had problems around their farm with ethanol gas because usually when she's able to get to a pump after work, the gas stations in her area that sell ethanol-free gas are closed.
"It tears up everything. We had to spend several hundred dollars on our boat as well as other things because of it, and it has also caused problems with our vehicles," she said.
When a smaller engine is left sitting for too long with ethanol in it, it can "gunk up" parts of the engine and corrode other parts.
Infrastructure for existing gas stations is another issue. Most gas stations are not equipped to pipe E15... Rest of article
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss) today announced his support for bipartisan legislation intended to help ease fuel prices and increase consumer energy choices by decreasing the fees and regulations on domestic and alternative fuels distribution.
Increasing choice. So that is what they call the 15% rule now. Its going to screw up your engines, cost more money, lower your gas mileage, but it provides more choice. Sounds like Obamacare. A later paragraph in the statement spells out the true intent:
S.2264 would allow retailers who meet the EPA standards to gain liability protection in their efforts to make biofuels, such as E15 and higher ethanol blends, more widely available.Nice to know our free-market supporting, anti-tree-hugger Senator is the EPA and corn lobby's best friend when it comes to the ethanol mandate. The bill was referred to committee.