Sunday, December 1, 2013

EPA backs off 15% ethanol. Guess which Mississippi Senator was its friend.

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.

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
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:
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. 


Anonymous said...

There are enough corn farmers in MS now, they would like the law.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate our illustrious dignitaries can't or won't graze on their own fodder. Everytime I fill up with gas, I have to add a fuel additive, further increasing my cost. Farm subsidies no longer serve their original purpose, since small family farms are a thing of the past. They only serve to enrich the large farmers and politicians who don't need them. It appears this proposal would serve those in the chain by preventing any liability on their part. Screw the consumer is the mantra. I'd like to see Thad turned out to pasture, but unfortunately there is no one on the horizon that would improve the lot.

Burke said...

The intentions may have been mostly good at the time, but all we got was a new road to Hell. Mississippi would be suffering even more without Thad Cochran, but on the ethanol issue, if he's wrong he's wrong. Still, he's a giant among pygmies when you compare him to those who presently are mentioned to succeed him.

Anonymous said...

I think he is a Cold War era statesman like Stennis, but who could not work on bipartisan domestic issues. He is good on nonproliferation, the arts, education, and keeping military bases. Yes, he has kept our farmers in the Republican camp regardless of how it demonstrates the corruption of free market principles. He could have been more of a national statesman on domestic issues if he had parted with McConnell. We would be further along in our economic recovery and international security if he worked with Sen. Collins and others to avoid sequester and strike a grand bargain on the budget. He had the standing in the Congress to throw his weight into a deal which other Senators and representatives would follow. He missed a great legislative and political opportunity.

Sputter said...

1:44; while I detest ethanol and have ruined two outboards and one generator with it, you do NOT have to add a fuel additive 'every time you fill up (your auto) with gas'. If you do that, then you need to drive up to one of the many ethanol-free pumps. Ethanol has indeed created yet another entire industry upon which the 'follow the money' crowd hustles along in a dither.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that ethanol-laced gasoline gets considerably lower mpg, so the consumer has to buy more gas to go the same distance. More gas purchased to go the same distance equals more taxes for the politicians. And Dick Hall wants hundreds of millions of dollars on top of that. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

He's also a friend of Cuba.

Anonymous said...

IMO Dick Hall is another story. Who approved the purchase of 2,700 acres of swamp land by the Dept. of Transportation, which is included in the proposed wildlife refuge in Rankin Co.?

Anonymous said...

I get 10.2 MPG with Ethanol Gas.
I get 12.9 with Plain Gas.

That is about 25% better. I have checked it over scores of tanks.

I drive about 360 miles per week.
Cost me about $30 dollars a week more.
$1,500 per year our of my pocket just so somebody gets a subsidy for providing an inferior fuel for my work Truck, I also have a Suburban and personal truck which use more gas so whoever can pay a politician off can get some government money.

I think the Ethanol cost my family overal about 3K per year. I bet the politicians were bought off overall a whole lot cheaper per screwed over taxpayer.

Filler Up Goob said...

Why the hell would you put "Plain Gas" (I assume you mean Ethanol free) in a work truck, or any truck for that matter? You're paying up to sixteen cents a gallon more and only gaining two MPG? Are you also on the PERS investment-selection board?

Anonymous said...

Well Goober, Gas at $3.00
30 gallons cost $90.00 and goes 306 miles at a fuel cost of 29 cents a mile. Ethanol free gas at 3.16 cost $94.80 for 30 gallons but goes 387 miles at a cost of 24 cents a mile. So, I spend more for ethanol free gas when I can get it and it costs me a nickle a mile less and I don't have to stop for fuel as often. As for what investments the PERS investment-selection board picks-well I will talk about it if KF starts a new article on it, would love to hash that one out a bit.

Anonymous said...

At 16 cents more for ethanol free under those conditions, the plain gas cost 5 cents less per mile driven, do the math Goober. I think Goober is a PERS recipient, relying on PERS to make your financial decisions is sad.

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