By on February 21, 2011

The EPA’s decision to allow E15 ethanol in public pumps has been something of a lesson in the way politics can trump common sense. The decision was motivated by intense pressure brought to bear by the ethanol industry, which is facing a serious problem in the form of a “blend wall.” The industry first tried to get the EPA to approve the 15-percent ethanol blend before research was complete, and the agency’s approvals came first for 2007 model-year and later vehicles, and was expanded shortly thereafter to 2001 and later models. In the meantime, a number of industries have come out against E15, suing the EPA to stop the approval and calling for congressional hearings. Now, with few reasons left to support E15 outside of propping up the staggering farm-state ethanol industry and huge portions of the economy coming out against it, the House has voted “overwhelmingly” to ban E15 from America’s gas pumps.

The Detroit News reports that two separate amendments concerning ethanol were approved and attached to the House version of an ongoing funding resolution required to keep government funded. The first would deny funding to any EPA efforts to implement its E15 approval, the second would end a tax subsidy so fuel stations could install pumps that can dispense varying amounts of gasoline and ethanol. Bill sponsor Rep John Sullivan explains

The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address important safety issues raised by the 50 percent increase in the ethanol mandate issued over the past year. Putting E15 into our general fuel supply could adversely impact up to 60 percent of cars on the road today leading to consumer confusion at the pump and possible engine failure in the cars they drive,

Between these bills and the pending lawsuits against the EPA’s approval of E15, the rollout of the fuel blend could well be dead on arrival. Of course, the Senate still must approve similar measures, and farm-state senators could well scuttle the House’s legislative efforts to stop E15. Still, the biofuel lobby is becoming increasingly marginalized by the widening attacks on the legislative and legal fronts. And since the subsidies underlying the whole “blend wall” problem were only barely approved for one more year, we could be moving into the end of times for America’s wasteful experiment with corn-powered cars.

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41 Comments on “House Votes To Ban E15...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Here’s some change I can believe in.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    As one of Jack Baruth’s female companions said during his ethanol experiment with his Town Car… “If the car is gonna drink alcohol, what’s left for us?”  (paraphrasing of course)  

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    There are people reporting on various automotive forums they are already seeing E15 at pumps.

  • avatar

    An unexpected setback for the Big Corn. But they still have E85, so I’m not going to feel sorry for them.

  • avatar
    hansel

    We need to end the subsidies and only use ethanol when it does not need subsidies to be a viable alternative. This is a waste of taxpayer money

  • avatar
    Rada

    We spend far more on oil subsidies than we’ll ever spend on ethanol. We even pay for oil essentially with the blood of our soldiers.

    • 0 avatar

      How many of our soldiers occupied Canada (from where we get most of our oil)?

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      Rada: I don’t think that TTAC is a political blog where it is appropriate to submit your thesis on American imperialism.

    • 0 avatar
      Rada

      @cmoibenlepro,

      how is trashing the ethanol lobby on TTAC not political? Can dish it, but can’t take it, huh?

    • 0 avatar
      Rada

      @Pete Zaitcev,

      since oil is a commoditty, it does not matter where we get the most of it from, as long as our political and military presence in the Middle East ensures the oil is traded in dollars, with direct benefits to us. If you want to see what oil without such subsidies really costs, visit Europe or Japan.

    • 0 avatar

      The externalities of oil are fair game for comment here, as long as we can keep the conversation sane. I wouldn’t deny that taxpayers shoulder hidden costs to keep gas prices low, but I also don’t see how subsidizing ethanol reduces these hidden costs of oil. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      And yet, 15% Corn Ethanol requires roughly 6 gallons of Oil Gasoline for mixing with each gallon of Corn Ethanol. Given that you still need a lot more Oil Gasoline for the car, this really isn’t reducing dependence.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      “We spend far more on oil subsidies than we’ll ever spend on ethanol. We even pay for oil essentially with the blood of our soldiers.”
       
      There is a real difference between a tax write-off or credit, and actual SUBSIDY – that is, the physical giving of money from the government to the producer, to cover some or all of the cost of the product.
       
      Just as there’s a difference between a war over free and unfettered commercial access to trade for oil, and a war to steal natural resources.  Which the United States has never done.
       
      As a Navy veteran, a Gulf War vet, I take umbrage with such – how shall we say? – misinformation.
       
       

  • avatar
    tparkit

    This is a promising development, but there won’t be a real prospect of totally getting rid of ethanol until after the next election cycle or two. For now, there are too many office-holding RINOs and fringe pseudo-conservatives still hanging around the Republican Party. In 2012 and 2014, real conservatives will be much better organized to launch primary challenges that get these bums out of the GOP. It takes critical mass to beat a boondoggle like ethanol, and conservatives don’t have it — yet.
     

     

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian


      I find your naiveté cute.
       
      How do you think hose RINOs got that way?  By selling out, just like their leftist counterparts do. I’ll give you a tip that serves me well in my ideological disillusionment: if you’re expecting a revolution of “real” conservatives or liberals  get used to disappointment.

    • 0 avatar
      tparkit

      Psarhjinian, YOU have “ideological disillusionment”? Who knew? You are a statist through and through. You can pretend real conservatives don’t exist in numbers if you want to, but we’re here, and we’re throwing out the RINOs:

      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jBQXyMpryy2burvByanQ4yFTqJGg?docId=5d6e50f1231d467bb7d85ba78db629a9

      Last election, several mushy-middle republicans declined to not run for re-election because they knew they would be unseated in the primaries. There will be a bunch more of these involuntary retirees next time around, plus the ones that lose primary fights to conservative challengers. Will we get rid of all the RINOs? Maybe not. Will some “conservative” candidates turn out to be Gingrich/Rove/Bush-style frauds? It’s a certainty.

      However, as we see in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and elsewhere, the leadership these days is all coming from serious conservatives who are taking political risks to make try to make real changes. That’s the kind of energy that galvanizes an already charged-up movement. That’s the kind of energy that frightens big-government guys like you.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Ethanol just doesn’t work in the US – we don’t have the waste products to produce it efficiently and the technology of producing it from grassland products does not work.  E85 only helps a very few at a great cost to society in terms of higher taxes on us, limiting importation of ethanol from efficient producing countries through higher tariffs, subsidies to farmers to produce food stock for use as a fuel, and higher food costs as feed corn is used for fuel rather than food for humans/animals.  The straw that is really breaking the camel’s back is the fact that our price of soda is going up b/c high fructose corn syrup is becoming as expensive as sugar leading to the “throwback” sodas.

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      I love Pepsi Throwback!  It makes the corn syrup sodas taste like ass!  I wish Coca-Cola would do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      mik

      @MarcKyle64
      Did you miss this?
      http://ca.gizmodo.com/5761145/coca+colas-secret-recipe-finally-revealed
      I dunno, I’ve always been a Pepsi man myself *shrug*

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      @Marckyle
       
      You can find the Good Stuff, you just gotta look, especially in the South.  Most of the convenience stores that serve a Hispanic population carry the Mexican Coke, which is made from real sugar.
       
      Personally, after having spent the better part of the past decade drinking the real Coke in backwater third world countries, I can’t drink the crap Coca Cola they sell here.
       
      I’ve noticed here in the DFW area that Dr. Pepper made from real sugar is widely available as well.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I love the throwbacks. Until about five years ago, I never understood why Coke always tasted better in other countries. An American product that tastes better elsewhere. It wasn’t until I found out that in the US corn syrup is used instead of sugar.

    • 0 avatar
      philipbarrett

      Sugar prices are kept artificially high in the US in order to benefit home producers and the corn industry. This isn’t just your tax dollars either, this is your out-of-pocket spending dollars being wasted.
       
      Rotten stuff sugarcane is, it stubbornly refuses to grow in the politically influential parts of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      sexyhammer

      If you live in a Southwestern state, you can get Mexican Coke in a pretty glass bottle. Made with cane sugar.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    How long until we can get straight gasoline anywhere we want?  Can’t be soon enough!

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      We can’t run straight 100% gasoline as you need additives to reduce freezing point and raise octane.  Methyl tert-butyl ether or MTBE used to be the agent we’d add but if it leaked into ground water it would cause all sorts of illnesses in the short and long run.  Ethanol is a good substitute for MTBE as it is mixes properly with gasoline only uses a small amount mixed with gasoline and acts as a an oxygenate to help burn fuel more cleanly.

    • 0 avatar

      Coke does make a batch with sucrose instead of HFCS, once each year, in the form of Kosher for Passover Coke.  It’ll start hitting the shelves in a few weeks.  Distribution can be spotty, look for it at Jewish markets and/or chain supermarkets in areas that have a large Jewish population.
      Coke has been doing this far longer than Pepsi has been doing throwback.
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/37815348@N00/2428146735/

  • avatar
    chuckR

    The straw that is really breaking the camel’s back is the fact that our price of soda is going up b/c high fructose corn syrup is becoming as expensive as sugar
    You say that like its a bad thing. I’m no food Puritan, but soft drinks are some of the most unambiguously empty calories there are.
    Marc – now I’m trying to not think about ass-flavored soft drinks. They would tax even Schmitt’s skills as a copywriter.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Funny thing is – there was very little concern about the drawbacks of pushing ethanol (rising cost of fuel, waste produced and tax dollars paid to something that was not sustainable) – until HFCS started going up in price – then it got on a lot of other people’s radar.

      But if you drink Diet you still won’t care ;)

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    Congress does something that is actually in the good interest of the American people?

    WTF?!?!

    2012 is surely going to be the end of the world.

  • avatar

    i wish i could get some e85
     
    105 octane?  awesome

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I was/am very concerned about what this crap would do to my 98 Audi. What did/do they plan to prevent its use in a PRE-2003? Or like C4C will they just try to take my “old” car off the road?

    • 0 avatar
      ChesterChi

      Use http://pure-gas.org/ to see if there is a gas station near you that sells ethanol-free gas.  If you and your friends get all your gas from one of those gas stations, they will be more likely to continue selling ethanol-free gas.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Thanks ChesterChi for posting that site.  There just happens to be 2 pure gas places in FMN, NM.  Good deal.  Sorry Dan, nothing in GUP – yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      If we could only figure a way to make an automotive fuel out of the blackened peels we remove from roasted chilles every fall!  Then we’d have something. 

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Fall – my favorite time of year in NM.  Between the Shiprock fair, the ABQ balloon fiesta, the roasted chiles, and relief from the summer heat, I really look forward to it every year.  Every May and June, the local hospital gets several shiprock fair babies that are born. 

      Now, if there was only a way to harness my methane from eating chiles…

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    Political ideologies aside, subsidizing ethanol is a terrible idea no matter how you look at it. Monsanto must love it because it means more farmers growing inedible corn solely for the purpose of ethanol. $$$

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I wonder how much this boondoggle cost us? If only there was a way to backcharge all of the lobbyists!

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Don’t be surprised if this dies in the Senate. The House is population based, meaning farm states are at a natural disadvantage, not so in the Senate. Every farm state Senator will vote against this, if they know whats good for them. Any Senator considering a run in 2014 will likely go against the ban as well, otherwise they won’t have a chance in the Iowa Caucus.


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