Ethanol producers want government to force us to buy more of their product.
The struggling ethanol industry is flexing its political clout to try to change government regulations on how much ethanol can be blended into gasoline.
Today retired General Wesley Clark, a onetime presidential candidate who now co-chairs of an ethanol industry group, asked the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the limit on how much ethanol can be blended into gasoline. The current limit is 10 percent; General Clark and his group, Growth Energy, want the amount raised as high as 15 percent.
Many environmentalists, however, don’t like corn ethanol.
“This is a likely prescription for more pollution – and more engine damage,” wrote Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch on his blog today.
Indeed, many opponents of corn ethanol argue that it creates plenty of greenhouse gas emissions, partly because of the fertilizer needed, and partly because in their view, growing corn as an energy feedstock displaces food crops, and forces an outward expansion of agriculture into precious forest land abroad.
Plenty of drivers already complain that the 10 percent ethanol blend reduces their mileage, and boaters and other users of small engines worry about complications that result from ethanol’s ability to attract water when the fuel is stored.
Kris Kiser, the executive vice president at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, warned today of “serious concerns” about E15.
“We need to acknowledge that current equipment — including boats, chainsaws, lawn mowers, snow mobiles, motorcycles, generators and other small engine equipment — may be permanently damaged and poses a safety risk if E15 fuel is used,” Mr. Kiser said in a statement. “Current equipment is neither designed, built or warrantied for mid-level blends.”
From its inception, the mandatory use of ethanol has been a political program that has nothing to do with clean air – touted as an “oxygenator” when first proposed, it was totally useless for that purpose once cars switched to fuel-injection systems back in 1988. The fuel was forced on consumers for no better reason than that Iowa farmers grow corn and Iowa holds presidential caucuses earlier than other states. That’s it.
Because ethanol absorbs water it cannot be mixed with gasoline and shipped via pipeline so we pay the extra cost of having it brewed in Iowa and trucked to local distribution plants while our cars deteriorate and our mileage suffers. It does nothing to clean the air or reduce our dependence on foreign oil (it costs more energy to produce than it yields). IT DOES NO GOOD!
And that smarmy pseudo-war hero Wesley Clark wants us to buy more of the junk so that he can get richer. I don’t think that’s a good idea.