E85 Boondoggle Of The Week: Blend Cap Decision Coming This Week

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The EPA is set to rule as soon as tomorrow on the so-called “blend cap,” which forbids the sale of gasoline with more than ten percent ethanol. The petition to raise the blend cap came from a relatively new pro-ethanol lobbying group, Growth Energy, which requested the cap be moved to fifteen percent ethanol. Growth Energy’s request cites foreign oil dependence, “green-collar jobs” and the future of cellulosic ethanol as reasons to bump the blend cap, but as the New York Times reports, the real problem is that the ten percent limit is bumping up against a congressional mandate to blend 15b gallons of biofuels with gasoline by 2012. What the Times fails to mention is the financial incentive for raising the blend cap: the 51 cent-per-gallon of ethanol blended tax credit. In 2007, when gas consumption was at an all-time high and ethanol blending mandates required a mere 4.7b gallons (with 7b actually blended), that credit cost taxpayers nearly $3b. In 2012, when the mandate hits 15b gallons, the taxpayer tab will be closer to $7.65b.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers is warning that higher blends of ethanol will cut the lives of catalytic converters in half, while E85 (85 percent ethanol, used only by “flex-fuel” vehicles) is 31 cents per gallon more expensive than gas when its lower efficiency is factored in. The reality is that meeting blending mandates has simply become more difficult because they were legislated in 2007, when few saw reason to project downward trends in fuel consumption. As Americans struggle with economic downturn, and as the auto industry improves its fuel-efficient offerings, the ethanol blending mandates represent nothing more than a burden without meaningful reward. Here’s hoping the EPA stands strong on the ten percent limit, and the discussion moves towards limiting the public expense of the ethanol industry.

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  • 97escort 97escort on Dec 01, 2009

    Again neither the writer of the post nor any of the commenters dare mention Peak Oil. We live in a world of limited liquid fossil fuel resources. Oil is depleting and not being found in quantities large enough to replace usage over time. Not only that, some of our oil suppliers do not like us very much. It is the real reason for 3 costly wars in the last 20 years. It is pure fantasy that we can go on indefinitely like this. Electric cars are a limited solution to the oil problem. Ethanol is only a partial solution, but those who oppose it have no solution. They live in a fantasy world and must not care much if their car centric lives collapse someday.

    • See 3 previous
    • PeregrineFalcon PeregrineFalcon on Dec 01, 2009

      Nope, bring on the Resource Wars. Until then, quit pouring corn syrup in my fuel tank.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Dec 01, 2009

    I long for the days of real gas. Ethanol rotted the carbs of my jetski. It's less hp for my car. The net energy gain is not clear. Why do it ? Oh yes, subsidies. Sorry. Ethanol is for drinking, not your car.

  • Jamie Electric cars and their planet stripping unsustainable mineral needs. Nothing is perfect.....
  • Tom Kenney Wondering the same. It's getting late for 2024....I should scoop up a 2023 3.3t now.
  • Ja-GTI My father bought one of these new in '75, when I was an inquisitive lad of six with a younger sister of four. I showed her how to open the rear hatch, and then I noticed a convenient pull-down handle on the bottom of the rear parcel shelf. I couldn't reach it from the ground, so I climbed in the back, pulled on the handle, and quite suddenly shut the hatch on top of me. The four year-old sister couldn't follow my frantic instruction on how to open the hatch - she eventually left to go to our neighbor's house to "get some cookies", and I spent the next several hours having a very bad time.Finally, the older nine year-old sister came home from school and was showing the new car to a friend when she heard me yelling and freed me from my VW prison. Thankfully, I overcame my childhood PTSD and ended up owning an '07 GTI for fourteen years - which gave me another type of PTSD. And my VW circle of life is now complete. Well, except for the '15 Jetta TDI manual I bought for my son...
  • Inside Looking Out In America non-violent crime is legalized in 2020 but in England not. That guy in America would be considered as the pillar of society. Wild west you know,
  • El scotto Having really bad SATO flashbacks. Someone from Alamo would stop by the SATO office and stuff some display rack with 10$ off at Alamo! coupons. Off on another mission for Truth, Justice, and the American Way of Life! Well OK, I was off to talk to some tech reps. Riding the shuttle bus to Alamo I inwardly prayed please, oh please may there be a Neon and not a damn Sebring! Neons were by and far one of the best cheap rental cars.