E85 Boondoggle of the Day: E85 Is Cheaper Than Gas

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Wrong. Establishing that fact seems simple enough, right? Take the price of E85 at the pump, figure in (out?) the loss of fuel efficiency (roughly 25 percent), forget about the taxpayer-supported .50 per gallon "blender's credit," recalculate the cost and compare it to the price of regular gas. If that's too much of a bother, go to the American Automobile Association's fuelgaugereport.com. Yesterday, an average gallon of regular cost $4.10. A BTU-adjusted gallon of corn juice cost $4.37. So, why is The Earth Times proclaiming "Gas Prices Got You Down? Don't Get Mad … Get Ethanol!" Because they're running The International Institute for Ecological Agriculture's press release verbatim. Oh, did I mention the "Institute" is a front for pro-E85 author (and Hawaiian shirt devotee) David Blume? Anyway, Blume writes "According to David Arkin of Arkin Tilt Architects… 'Ethanol can be part of one's path to a carbon neutral lifestyle. It costs less than gasoline, is readily available, and — when grown and produced properly — can help combat climate change through both its clean emissions and the potential to sequester carbon.'" And according to the man himself, "If everyone used 30% ethanol in their unmodified cars we would be able to cease buying any oil from the Middle East, ending our dependence, our crushing military expenditures there, and our National Guard could be brought home from Iraq. Converting completely to US made ethanol would make our economy literally bombproof to the explosive price increases we can expect oil to sustain as it runs out." Now how much would you pay?

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4 of 28 comments
  • on Jul 17, 2008
    SunnyvaleCA Says: July 16th, 2008 at 3:47 pm Ah, but there is one twist: E85 has a high octane rating so should be compared to premium (assuming your car needs premium). The AAA site lists $4.52 for premium and only $4.38 for mileage-adjusted E85. Are there any cars that are E85 compatible and also need premium fuel? Only if the E85 fuel mixture has an octane rating of 91 or higher. It might or it might not. Just because ethanol has a high octane rating doesn't mean that ethanol mixed with 15% of something else, gasoline, will have a high octane rating.

  • on Jul 17, 2008
    While ethanol is not perfect it is the best alternative available now. It should be priced appropriately as it is here in North Iowa where gas is about $4 and E85 is about $3. At these prices it is a competive substitute of gasoline. The only reason that ethanol blends even look competitive is because the government subsidizes the cost of producing ethanol from corn; thereby, reducing the price at the pump. That money comes from somewhere, our taxes and inflation (due to excessive borrowing) to name two sources.

  • Mdf Mdf on Jul 17, 2008

    RogerB34: It required 1.38 gallons of E85 to equal the mileage of 1.0 gallons of gasoline CR 150 mile test. This is consistent with the energy content of the respective fuels. I am amazed at menno's observations of 23% difference for E10 -- which has only 3% less energy that straight-up gasoline. Regardless of his claims re: thermodynamics, energy must be conserved. Where is the extra 20% going?

  • Jawguard Jawguard on Jul 26, 2008

    In calculating yearly fuel costs for a 2009 Chevrolet HHR (using fueleconomy.gov), I found the difference between regular gasoline and E85 to be $0.01. I wonder how much difference there would be if the price of regular gas should have to include the costs of clean-ups such as the the recent Mississippi oil spill (E85 would be biodegradable) or the costs of a aircraft carrier task force in the Persian Gulf initiated by the Carter Doctrine.