By on August 26, 2010

Opposition to the Ethanol industry’s push to allow gasoline blends with up to 15 percent ethanol is coming together this week, as a massive coalition of interest groups calls for congressional hearings on the EPA’s pending E15 decision [via PRNewswire]. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers joined 37 other groups, ranging from the National Resources Defense Council to the Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association, in calling on congressional energy committees to take up the issue.

The letter explains

EPA has indicated that it should make a decision on granting a waiver for E15 by the end of September, and we believe that many important questions remain before EPA can make this decision.  For example, EPA has not released information about the mid-level blend’s impact on different types of road and non-road engines, nor has it released information about how it will prevent harm to consumers from “misfueling” their engines with the incorrect blend.

We believe there are many questions remaining before EPA makes its final decision on the mid- level ethanol fuel waiver, and that the Environment and Public Works Committee is the ideal place to ask those questions.  We also believe that the Department of Energy should fully expand and accelerate mid-level ethanol blends research in the areas that are necessary to protect consumers. For these reasons, we urge you to hold a hearing with EPA, DOE and other witnesses on the mid-level ethanol testing and waiver.

The coalition of E15 opponents is a big tent and as the letter makes clear, environmentalism isn’t necessarily the glue that holds it together. A number of food-industry groups like the American Meat Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the National Turkey Federation are concerned about ethanol’s impacts on food prices. The Association of Marina Industries, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, SEMA, the automakers and other motor-industry interest groups are primarily concerned about E15’s impact on their products. The call for more testing of E15 and E12 (which the corn and ethanol industries have requested approval for as an interim measure) is primarily motivated by the motor manufacturing and service faction, as ethanol has been tied to corrosion in engines, reduced fuel economy, and higher-than-normal operating temperatures.

Still, this broad coalition seems determined to provide a counter-weight to the ethanol lobby. Its website Followthescience.org goes beyond just calling for more E15 testing, laying out a comprehensive case for opposition to corn ethanol. If opposition to corn ethanol’s long stint at the federal trough is in this fight for the long haul, we may yet see a real rollback in the wasteful subsidies for ethanol. If nothing else, limiting blending to E10 will keep the ethanol industry’s back against the “blend wall.” That’s a fine place to start.

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18 Comments on “E15 Ethanol Opposition Calls For Congressional Hearings...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    Boondoggle.

    Corn-based ethanol wastes more energy than it displaces and pollutes the Earth and water.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    Can’t we just power our cars, planes, trains, lawn-mowers, appliances, etc. with dehydrated unicorn farts and quit this endless debate.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Ethanol, or rather, corn, enjoys an enviable position. Opposing it gets you labelled as “hating the American farmer” which is up there with hating Jesus, Mom or Apple Pie.

    That the corn lobby is largely made up of the likes of Monsanto or ADM—people who make things harder, not easier, on farmers—doesn’t really factor into the equation. To kill corn ethanol, you’ll need to expose this little masquerade and/or find some way to get ADM’s tongue out of government’s ear.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    The whole Ethanol debacle has been about corporate welfare and buying votes in the Midwest. Environmentalism never had anything to do with it, it was just a handy cover to hide the real motives.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Ethanol mandates have also been recognized as a way around trade pacts which limit price supports.

      Ethanol legislation is price support legislation if nothing else. Artificially boosting demand for corn has caused other foodstuffs to ramp up in price too. Substitution effect.

      Corn syrup anyone?

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Corn is a pure source of empty calories. It has almost no nutritional value, whether processed into corn syrup or not.

      Any use of the stuff that doesn’t involve putting it into the human body (directly, or indirectly as animal feed) is a good thing.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I don’t understand why sugar farmers haven’t stepped up and explained that energy concentration in their product is significantly higher than corn, and much more sensible than ethanol.

    Anyone with insight here?

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Easy, the sugar lobby in TX/LA/FL doesn’t draw nearly as much water as the oil/tourism lobbies from those states. Add in the fact that there are only 6 senators from sugar states vs the 8 billion senators allocated to the mid-west.

      To be fair, the sugar lobby does do some things well, like guarantee the high taxation of foreign sugar, with a direct result being that hi fructose corn syrup being a more attractive product.

  • avatar
    TR4

    I too am of the opinion that ethanol in fuel is nothing more than government and big business colluding to pick our pockets. However I have difficulty believing that 10% is tolerable but 15% will make the sky fall.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    My vehicle’s owner’s manual states specifically not to use gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol in it & to do so may invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty. Have the proponents of E15 considered the huge cost of repairing and retrofitting millions of cars which can barely tolerate 90/10 gas now? I doubt it.

  • avatar
    Engineer

    There is an easy solution to the blend wall concern: subsidize E85 sales (some more). Using more E85 would negate the need to slam E15 down everybody’s throat and would mean using a fuel in a vehicle that was specifically designed for it.

    Using more E85 in the “Corn States” would also save energy twice: less ethanol would have to be exported, and, assuming the wonderfuel actually displaces gasoline, less gasoline would need to be imported.

    Go ahead, Heartland! Now is your chance to show the rest of us how great ethanol is, and how energy independence can be achieved!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I’ll second that. E15 for Farmers!
      That said, alcohol blends do provide real benefits in the form of lower emissions. I don’t have links handy, but it’s not hard to google relevant studies. The same studies also show reduced mpg’s, so I don’t think there’s much point in going higher than E10. If I could find pure gas in my town I’d buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      Russycle, note that would be “E85 for farmers! If it’s such a great fuel, you show us.

      And I believe the science on emissions is all over the place: ethanol tends to increase the vapor pressure of blends, leading to more evaporative loss (i.e. emissions). As with many issues, this has become politicized to the point where the truth will be hard to find.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I noticed a difference right away when I was forced to start using E10 in my first gen. Acura MDX. Mileage declined, power decreased, and according to my measurements, it runs slightly hotter, causing a slight ping. It is supposed to increase octane, but apparently not enough to offset the temp. induced ping. As MarcKyle64 stated above, my owners manual states that anything above 10% will void my warranty. This is all just political BS. I have already called my Congressman expressing my displeasure with this possible change.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I love diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      BINGO!

      What I love even more is running an old diesel on old cooking oil, doing great things for the environment and energy independence (and my pocket book) while reducing my wealth transfer to OPEC.

      Man, that DOES feel good!


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